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THE UNINSURED AND AFFORDABLE HEALTH CARE

COVERAGE

HEARING
BEFORE THE

SUBCOMMITTEE ON HEALTH
OF THE

COMMITTEE ON ENERGY AND


COMMERCE
HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES
ONE HUNDRED SEVENTH CONGRESS
SECOND SESSION

FEBRUARY 28, 2002

Serial No. 10798

Printed for the use of the Committee on Energy and Commerce

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COMMITTEE ON ENERGY AND COMMERCE
W.J. BILLY TAUZIN, Louisiana, Chairman
MICHAEL BILIRAKIS, Florida JOHN D. DINGELL, Michigan
JOE BARTON, Texas HENRY A. WAXMAN, California
FRED UPTON, Michigan EDWARD J. MARKEY, Massachusetts
CLIFF STEARNS, Florida RALPH M. HALL, Texas
PAUL E. GILLMOR, Ohio RICK BOUCHER, Virginia
JAMES C. GREENWOOD, Pennsylvania EDOLPHUS TOWNS, New York
CHRISTOPHER COX, California FRANK PALLONE, Jr., New Jersey
NATHAN DEAL, Georgia SHERROD BROWN, Ohio
STEVE LARGENT, Oklahoma BART GORDON, Tennessee
RICHARD BURR, North Carolina PETER DEUTSCH, Florida
ED WHITFIELD, Kentucky BOBBY L. RUSH, Illinois
GREG GANSKE, Iowa ANNA G. ESHOO, California
CHARLIE NORWOOD, Georgia BART STUPAK, Michigan
BARBARA CUBIN, Wyoming ELIOT L. ENGEL, New York
JOHN SHIMKUS, Illinois TOM SAWYER, Ohio
HEATHER WILSON, New Mexico ALBERT R. WYNN, Maryland
JOHN B. SHADEGG, Arizona GENE GREEN, Texas
CHARLES CHIP PICKERING, Mississippi KAREN MCCARTHY, Missouri
VITO FOSSELLA, New York TED STRICKLAND, Ohio
ROY BLUNT, Missouri DIANA DEGETTE, Colorado
TOM DAVIS, Virginia THOMAS M. BARRETT, Wisconsin
ED BRYANT, Tennessee BILL LUTHER, Minnesota
ROBERT L. EHRLICH, Jr., Maryland LOIS CAPPS, California
STEVE BUYER, Indiana MICHAEL F. DOYLE, Pennsylvania
GEORGE RADANOVICH, California CHRISTOPHER JOHN, Louisiana
CHARLES F. BASS, New Hampshire JANE HARMAN, California
JOSEPH R. PITTS, Pennsylvania
MARY BONO, California
GREG WALDEN, Oregon
LEE TERRY, Nebraska
DAVID V. MARVENTANO, Staff Director
JAMES D. BARNETTE, General Counsel
REID P.F. STUNTZ, Minority Staff Director and Chief Counsel

SUBCOMMITTEE ON HEALTH
MICHAEL BILIRAKIS, Florida, Chairman
JOE BARTON, Texas SHERROD BROWN, Ohio
FRED UPTON, Michigan HENRY A. WAXMAN, California
JAMES C. GREENWOOD, Pennsylvania TED STRICKLAND, Ohio
NATHAN DEAL, Georgia THOMAS M. BARRETT, Wisconsin
RICHARD BURR, North Carolina LOIS CAPPS, California
ED WHITFIELD, Kentucky RALPH M. HALL, Texas
GREG GANSKE, Iowa EDOLPHUS TOWNS, New York
CHARLIE NORWOOD, Georgia FRANK PALLONE, Jr., New Jersey
Vice Chairman PETER DEUTSCH, Florida
BARBARA CUBIN, Wyoming ANNA G. ESHOO, California
HEATHER WILSON, New Mexico BART STUPAK, Michigan
JOHN B. SHADEGG, Arizona ELIOT L. ENGEL, New York
CHARLES CHIP PICKERING, Mississippi ALBERT R. WYNN, Maryland
ED BRYANT, Tennessee GENE GREEN, Texas
ROBERT L. EHRLICH, Jr., Maryland JOHN D. DINGELL, Michigan,
STEVE BUYER, Indiana (Ex Officio)
JOSEPH R. PITTS, Pennsylvania
W.J. BILLY TAUZIN, Louisiana
(Ex Officio)

(II)

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CONTENTS

Page
Testimony of:
Donnelly, Hon. Thomas R., Jr., Board Member, Coalition for Affordable
Health Care Coverage .................................................................................. 85
Feder, Judith, Dean of Public Policy, Georgetown University ..................... 90
Grealy, Mary R., President, Healthcare Leadership Council ....................... 33
Kellermann, Arthur L., Co-Chair of the Committee on the Study of the
Consequences of Uninsurance, Institute of Medicine ................................ 27
Posada, Robert de, President, The Latino Coalition ...................................... 80
Rowland, Diane, Executive Vice President, Henry J. Kaiser Family Foun-
dation ............................................................................................................. 39
Turner, Grace-Marie, President, Galen Institute, Inc ................................... 72
Weil, Alan, Center Director, Assessing the New Federalism, The Urban
Institute ......................................................................................................... 98
Material submitted for the record by:
Donnelly, Hon. Thomas R., Jr., Board Member, Coalition for Affordable
Health Care Coverage, responses for the record ........................................ 107
Feder, Judith, Dean of Public Policy, Georgetown University, responses
for the record ................................................................................................. 112
Grealy, Mary R., President, Healthcare Leadership Council, responses
for the record ................................................................................................. 114
Kellermann, Arthur L., Co-Chair of the Committee on the Study of the
Consequences of Uninsurance, Institute of Medicine, responses for the
record ............................................................................................................. 117
Posada, Robert de, President, The Latino Coalition, responses for the
record ............................................................................................................. 121
Rowland, Diane, Executive Vice President, Henry J. Kaiser Family Foun-
dation, responses for the record ................................................................... 118
Turner, Grace-Marie, President, Galen Institute, Inc., responses for the
record ............................................................................................................. 123

(III)

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THE UNINSURED AND AFFORDABLE HEALTH
CARE COVERAGE

THURSDAY, FEBRUARY 28, 2002

HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES,
COMMITTEE ON ENERGY AND COMMERCE,
SUBCOMMITTEE ON HEALTH,
Washington, DC.
The subcommittee met, pursuant to notice, at 10 a.m., in room
334, Cannon House Office Building, Hon. Michael Bilirakis (chair-
man) presiding.
Members present: Representatives Bilirakis, Burr, Whitfield.
Ganske, Wilson, Bryant, Waxman, Strickland, Capps, Towns,
Wynn, Green, and Dingell (ex officio).
Staff present: Nandan Kenkeremath, majority counsel; Yong
Choe, legislative clerk; and Amy Hall, minority professional staff
member.
Mr. BILIRAKIS. I call this hearing to order. I would like to wel-
come our witnesses and our audience to this important hearing on
the uninsured. And first I would like to thank the Veterans Affairs
Committee for allowing us to use this hearing room while our main
hearing room, the Energy and Commerce Hearing Room, as you
know is being renovated.
And I am proud to be a member of the leadership of both com-
mittees. Before we begin today, I would like to take a moment to
offer my thoughts and prayers to Dr. John Eisenberg and his fam-
ily.
As many of you know, Dr. Eisenberg is the Director of the Agen-
cy for Health Care Research Equality. I know that Ranking Mem-
ber Brown and I, as well as all members of this committee, have
worked with Dr. Eisenberg over the hears in his role of AHRQ, as
a founding commissioner of the Physician Payment Review Com-
mission, one of the precursors as you know of MEDPAC.
And as principal Deputy Assistant Heath Secretary for Health.
Johns contribution to government and to health services research
has been of immeasurable value, and did not go unnoticed when
President Bush decided to retain his expertise during his adminis-
tration.
For some time now Dr. Eisenberg has been bravely battling a
brain tumor, while continuing to lead AHRQ with the same dedica-
tion and passion for which he has always been known.
He continues to be one of the top government experts in quality,
appropriateness, and effectiveness of health care services, and I
know that I speak for myself, for Chairman Tauzin, and all mem-
bers of this committee when I say their thoughts and prayers are
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2

with John, his family, and his AHRQ family during this very dif-
ficult time.
While the number of uninsured individuals in America has re-
mained at an unacceptably high level, despite a strong economy
and record levels of employment, the Census Bureau estimates that
last year over 38 million people went the whole year without health
insurance.
Although this figure does represent an improvement from the
43.4 million Americans that lacked coverage in 1997, there is still
real concern with the fact that rising health care costs and the re-
cent economic downturn could and probably will increase the num-
ber of uninsured.
In the past, we have acted to create systems that expand health
coverage. We have a system that allows employers to offer health
benefits to employees without counting these benefits as income.
Medicare and Medicaid, and S-CHIP, represents substantial pub-
lic investments in providing health coverage to our Nations most
needy. federally funded community health centers provide health
care to individuals without regard to their ability to pay.
State governments have implemented innovative programs, such
as high risk pools, to help with the problem of the uninsured. De-
spite these successes the plain fact is that we must do more.
I believe that it is safe to say that no one solution will completely
solve this problem. In order to significantly reduce the number of
uninsured, we must look at innovative and flexible solutions that
will increase access to health care.
The President has proposed $89 billion over 10 years as a refund-
ableand I underline thatrefundable tax credit for the purchase
of health insurance. One of the most attractive components of this
benefit is that it is completely portable, and would be in the hands
of the individual to use in a manner that best suits their family.
I believe that it is important for Congress to examine this pro-
posal, and certainly not to turn away from it, but to examine the
proposal, and refine it where needed. But it no doubt dem-
onstratesand I feel very strongly about this, it does demonstrate
the administrations commitment to addressing the problem of the
uninsured.
The Presidents budget also recognizes the important role of the
health care safety net. The budget proposal would allow States to
use an estimated $3.2 billion in unspent S-CHIP funds to expand
S-CHIP, and Medicaid, by enrolling more low income children and
their parents.
The administrations proposal also proposes $1.5 billion for com-
munity health centers, something that is very warm to my heart,
which is a $114 million increase over last years funding level.
And last the budget request proposes expanding the medical sav-
ings account and flexible spending account programs. These are
real solutions that we should explore, and they can make a real dif-
ference in reducing the number of uninsured in America.
Butand I do again emphasizefor the benefit of all of my col-
leagues up here, not completely solving the problem by any means,
but as has happened in the past, hopefully a partial fix, which will
go toward at least reducing the number of uninsured.

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This year, Congress has a tremendous opportunity, particularly


with the Presidents interests, to improve the quality and avail-
ability of health care for all Americans. Our challenge is to enact
legislation that will expand access to care for a significant number
of Americans in a fiscally responsible manner.
And again I would like to thank our witnesses for being here
today, and I look forward to their testimony. And I know would
yield to Mr. Brown.
[The prepared statement of Hon. Michael Bilirakis follows:]
PREPARED STATEMENT OF HON. MICHAEL BILIRAKIS, CHAIRMAN, SUBCOMMITTEE ON
HEALTH
Good morning, I now call this hearing to order. Id like to welcome our witnesses
and our audience to this important hearing on the uninsured. First, I would like
to thank the Veterans Affairs Committee for allowing us to use their hearing room
while our main Energy and Commerce Committee hearing room is being renovated.
Im proud to be a member of the leadership of both these important Committees.
Before we begin today, Id like to take a moment to offer my thoughts and prayers
to Dr. John Eisenberg and his family. As many of you know, Dr. Eisenberg is the
Director of the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ). I know Rank-
ing Member Brown and myself, as well as the Members of this Committee, have
worked with Dr. Eisenberg over the years in his role at AHRQ, as a founding Com-
missioner of the Physician Payment Review Commission (one of the precursors of
MedPAC), and as Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary for Health. Johns contribu-
tion to government and to health services research has been of immeasurable value,
and did not go unnoticed when President Bush decided to retain Johns expertise
during his Administration.
For some time now, Dr. Eisenberg has been bravely battling a brain tumor while
continuing to lead AHRQ with the same dedication and passion for which he has
always been known. He continues to be one of the top government experts in qual-
ity, appropriateness, and effectiveness of health care services. I know I speak for
myself, Chairman Tauzin, and all the Members of this Committee when I say that
our thoughts and prayers are with John, his family and his AHRQ family during
this difficult time.
The number of uninsured individuals in America has remained at an unaccept-
ably high level, despite a strong economy and record levels of employment. The Cen-
sus Bureau estimates that last year over 38 million people went the whole year
without health insurance. Although this figure represents an improvement from the
43.4 million Americans that lacked coverage in 1997, there is still real concern with
the fact that rising health care costs and the recent economic downturn could in-
crease the number of uninsured.
In the past we have acted to create systems that expand health coverage. We have
a system that allows employers to offer health benefits to employees without count-
ing these benefits as income. Medicare, Medicaid and S-CHIP represent substantial
public investments in providing health coverage to our Nations most needy. Feder-
ally funded Community Health Centers provide health care to individuals without
regard to their ability to pay. State governments have implemented innovative pro-
grams, such as high risk pools, to help with the problem of the uninsured. Despite
these successes, the plain fact is that we must do more.
I believe it is safe to say that no one solution will completely solve this problem.
In order to significantly reduce the number of uninsured, we must look at innova-
tive and flexible solutions that will increase access to health care. The President has
proposed $89 Billion over ten years as a refundable tax credit for the purchase of
health insurance. One of the most attractive components of this benefit is that it
is completely portable and would be in the hands of the individual to use in a man-
ner that best suits their family. I believe it is important for Congress to examine
this proposal and refine it where needed, but it no doubt demonstrates the Adminis-
trations commitment to addressing the problem of the uninsured.
The Presidents budget also recognizes the important role of the health care safety
net. The budget proposal would allow States to use an estimated $3.2 Billion in
unspent S-CHIP funds to expand S-CHIP and Medicaid by enrolling more low-in-
come children and their parents. The Administrations proposal also proposes $1.5
Billion for Community Health Centers, which is a $114 million dollar increase over
last years funding level. Lastly, the budget request proposes expanding the medical
savings account and flexible spending account programs. These are real solutions

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4
that we should explore, and they can make a real difference in reducing the number
of uninsured in America.
This year, Congress has a tremendous opportunity to improve the quality and
availability of health care for all Americans. Our challenge is to enact legislation
that will expand access to care for a significant number of Americans in a fiscally
responsible manner. Again, I would like to thank our witnesses for being here today
and I look forward to their testimony.
Mr. BROWN. I thank you, Mr. Chairman. I want to echo the
Chairmans remarks, first, about John Eisenberg. As a physician,
a teacher, a researcher, and a leader in the health care policy area,
John has dedicated himself to making our health care system more
responsive, and more efficient, and more inclusive.
I was fortunate to work closely with John during the reauthor-
ization of HRQ a couple of years ago, and know that one of this
personal priorities has been to ensure the independence and the
scientific integrity of the Agencys products.
He has fought hard in his career to deliver objective, timely, and
scientifically valid research, in what can sometimes be a politically
supercharged environment. And that endeavor, as in so many oth-
ers, John has been wholly successful.
I want to thank him for his contribution and my thoughts and
prayers are with him during his illness and with his family.
I want to thank the witnesses for joining us this morning, espe-
cially considering the hearing room in which we sit, and what this
committee in Congress that normally sits in this room, with Mr.
Bilirakis and others, has done in the area of Veterans Administra-
tion health.
And when you look very quantifiably at results, at medical er-
rors, at outcomes, the VA is performing these days an untold story,
but one to celebrate. The VA is performing these days according to
quantifiable outcome results better than the private health care
system in many, many ways in this country.
And from that I think we could learn something. There was an
interesting op ed in the Cleveland Plain Dealer the other day. Tom
Brizatis, an writer for the Plain Dealer, was arguing for a single
payer system. It is not to be confused as opponents often do with
the government run health care system, where the government ac-
tually provides care.
Single payer means that the financing of health care is central-
ized, which puts an end to the gaps and the inconsistencies that
inevitably arise when you have a patchwork of private and public
financing mechanisms.
Implementing such a system would save about a $100 billion in
administrative costs out of the U.S. health care system, dollars that
could be used to actually provide care. We know that the adminis-
trative costs of Medicare, which is a single payer system by and
large, that the administrative costs are less than 2 percent.
And the administrative costs of private insurance are five times
that, eight times that, ten times that, depending on the kind of in-
dividual or group plan. More importantly under single payer, insur-
ance could function like insurance.
Everyone would pay into the pool, and everyone would know that
should they become ill that their costs would be covered. Individ-
uals with health conditions wouldnt be shunned off as we do now
into high risk pools, and they would not be denied insurance or

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5

face coverage, exclusions, and gaps because they actually had the
occasion to fall ill.
Small businesses wouldnt be forced to drop coverage because
their premiums spike upward when one employee gets sick.
People in the individual insurance market would not face an im-
possible tradeoff, unaffordable premiums, or deductibles so high
that health are remains out of reach with or without insurance.
Steelworkers in my district, for example, and throughout the
U.S., wouldnt be left without health insurance when their compa-
nies go under, or are sold, or declare bankruptcy, as well LTV, and
RTI, and others have recently.
Economic downturns would not automatically under single payer
swell the ranks of the uninsured. I am not minimizing the potential
pitfalls associated with single payer. The public sector, the private
sector, consumers, would have to work closely to ensure high qual-
ity care and promote continued medical innovation.
We could work through those issues. I am not as optimistic as
my friend, Jim McDermott, who is quoted in that op ed that I cited
earlier. He believes that the U.S. will see beyond the stigma, recog-
nizing that anything short of a single payer system is just another
temporary quick fix.
My guess is that the word, the term, single payer, sends chills
down the spine of my colleagues on the other side of the aisle, not
to mention probably several of our witnesses.
I think we are going to keep filling holes, unfortunately just keep
filling holes in this institution, our health care system, for some
time.
But if we are left with incremental solutions, lets establish some
ground rules. I will start with the most obvious one. Lets not
spend money on a proposal that ultimately reduces access to cov-
erage. My concern about MSAs and association plans, is that by
skimming healthier individuals and groups into separate risk pools,
these approaches could increase premiums for everyone else.
What happens when premiums increase? So does the number of
uninsured. While we are at it, lets not encourage the proliferation
of high deductible plans. When an individual faces a high deduct-
ible, what kind of care do they avoid?
They avoid, of course, routine and preventive care. Do we really
want to discourage the use of routine and preventive care and what
that means to costs, and what that means to human health. Strike
Two for MSAs.
Lets not spend money on a proposal that creates a two-tiered
system; one for healthy people, and one for sick people. Insurance
is supposed to be there when you get sick, not until you get sick.
While current high risk pools of filled the gap for some individ-
uals, premiums are exceptionally high and participation is rel-
atively low for the very risk that the risk pool is not balanced.
Again, for insurance to remain stable and to remain affordable,
you have to buy in when you are healthy as protection in the event
that you get sick. Taken to its extreme, the risk pool says that you
would relegate all of those who might become ill into one pool, and
all of those who definitely wont become ill into another.
All of us would be in the high risk pool. Thats why all of us need
insurance, and thats why those of us who are fortunate enough to

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6

stay healthy cant abandon those who become ill. Tomorrow your
luck might change. Lets not spend money on a proposal that is not
well targeted.
My concern with tax credits is to help low income families who
comprise the bulk of the uninsured, these credits would have to be
huge. I checked out premiums in the individual markets in my
home State of Ohio.
Unless you want a plan with a $5,000 deductible, the premiums
are outrageous, upwards of $10,000 per year per family in some
cases. I understand the administrative load on a typical insurance
policy in the individual marketand keep in mind what I said
about Medicareare 2 percent administrative costs.
The administrative load on a typical insurance policy in the indi-
vidual market can be as high as 40 percent. Is that the best way
to spend limited Federal dollars? We would get more bang for our
buck by expanding existing public programs like Medicaid, like S-
CHIP, like Medicare.
My colleague, Mr. Stark and I, have introduced legislation that
would enable uninsured individuals 55 to 64 to buy into Medicare.
That is the fastest growing segment of the uninsured population,
and the segment with the greatest risk for catastrophic health
event.
I have joined Mr. Dingell and Mr. Pallone, and others on this
subcommittee on legislation that provides States additional funding
so they can get low income parents and other groups into Medicaid
and S-CHIP.
We should look seriously at both of those proposals. I want to
talk about one more principle, which is the most important of all,
and that is lets not expand coverage by taking away from current
Medicaid beneficiaries.
We are the worlds wealthiest Nation, and we dont need to make
deals with the devil. As the committee with jurisdiction over Med-
icaid, we have a responsibility to ensure that the beneficiaries of
that program are receiving the benefits to which they are entitled.
Those beneficiaries remember Medicaid. They live in poverty.
Many are disabled severely and most are children. I am concerned
that the administration is promoting tradeoffs through the HIFA
waiver process that could easily undercut access to care for current
Medicaid beneficiaries. I will wrap up, Mr. Chairman.
Some States have asked for waiver authorities to impose signifi-
cant cost sharing, even enrollment fees, on very low income bene-
ficiaries, using the savings to offer coverage to higher income indi-
viduals.
Imagine charging more for the poor so we can offer more benefits
to higher income people. I hope, Mr. Chairman, because this com-
mittee has a responsibility to Medicaid beneficiaries, that we can
work together on a bipartisan basis to monitor the HIFA waiver
process and take action to ensure that current beneficiaries main-
tain access to the coverage that they have now and absolutely need.
Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
[The prepared statement of Hon. Sherrod Brown follows:]

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PREPARED STATEMENT OF HON. SHERROD BROWN, A REPRESENTATIVE IN CONGRESS
FROM THE STATE OF OHIO

Thank you, Mr. Chairman.


First I want to echo the Chairmans comments about John Eisenberg. As a physi-
cian, a reseacher, and a leader in the health care policy arena, John has dedicated
himself to making our health care system more responsive, more efficient, and more
inclusive.
I was fortunate to work closely with John during the reauthorization of AHRQ,
and I know that one of his personal priorities has been to ensure the independence
and scientific integrity of the agencys products. He has fought hard to deliver objec-
tive, timely, and scientifically valid research in what can sometimes be a politically
charged environment.
In that endeavor, as in so many others, John has been wholly successful. I want
to commend and thank him for his contribution. My thoughts and prayers are with
John and his family.
I want to thank our witnesses for joining us this morning.
There was an interesting op-ed in the Cleveland Plain Dealer on Sunday. Tom
Brazaitis was arguing for a single-payer system.
Thats not to be confused, as it often is, with a government-run health care sys-
tem, where the government actually provides care.
A single payer system means that the financing of health care is centrallized,
which puts an end to the gaps and inconsistencies that inevitably arise when you
have a patchwork of public and private financing mechanisms.
Implementing such a system could cut about $100 billion in administrative costs
out of the US health care system, dollars that could be used to actually provide care.
More importantly, under a single payer system, insurance could function like in-
surance again. Everyone would pay into the pool, and everyone would know that,
should they become ill, their costs would be covered.
Individuals with health conditions wouldnt be shunted off into high risk pools,
and they wouldnt be denied insurance or face coverage exclusions because they had
the audacity to actually fall ill.
Small businesses wouldnt be forced to drop coverage because their premiums
spike upward when one employee becomes sick.
People in the individual insurance market would not face an impossible trade-off,
unaffordable premiums or a deductible so high that health care remains out-of-reach
with or without insurance.
Steelworkers in my district and throughout the US would not be left without
health insurance when their companies go under or are sold. Economic downturns
wouldnt swell the ranks of the uninsured.
Im not minimizing the potential pitfalls associated with single payer systems.
The public sector, the private sector, and consumers would have to work closely
together to ensure high quality care and promote continued medical innovation.
We could work through those issues. But Im not as optimistic as my friend, Jim
McDermott, who is quoted in the op-ed. He believes the US will see beyond the stig-
ma and recognize that anything short of a single payer system is a temporary fix.
My guess is that the word single-payer sends chills down the spine of my col-
leagues on the other side of the aisle, not to mention several of our witnesses.
I think were going to keep filling holes for awhile yet. So, if were left with incre-
mental solutions, lets establish some ground rules.
Ill start with the most obvious one: Lets not spend money on a proposal that ulti-
mately reduces access to coverage.
My concern about MSAs and association plans is that, by skimming healthier in-
dividuals and groups into separate risk pools, these approaches could increase pre-
miums for everyone else.
What happens when premiums increase? So does the number of uninsured.
While were at it, lets not encourage the proliferation of high deductible plans.
When an individual faces a high deductible, what kind of care do you think they
avoid? Routine and preventive services. Do we really want to discourage the use of
routine and preventive services?
Strike two for MSAs.
Lets not spend money on a proposal that creates a two-tiered system, one for
healthy people and one for sick people. Insurance is supposed to be there when you
get sick, not until you get sick.
While current high risk pools have filled a gap for some individuals, premiums
are exceptionally high and participation is relatively low, for the very reason that
the risk pool is not balanced. Again, for insurance to remain stable and affordable,
you have to buy in when youre healthy as protection in the event you get sick.

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8
Taken to its extreme, the risk pool concept says you would relegate all those who
might become ill into one pool, and all those who definitely wont become ill into
another. All of us would be in the high risk pool. Thats why all of us need insur-
ance, and thats why those of us who are fortunate enough to stay healthy cannot
abandon those who become ill. Tomorrow your luck could change.
Lets not spend money on a proposal that is not well targeted.
My concern with tax credits is that to help the low income families who comprise
the bulk of the uninsured, these credits would have to be huge. I checked out pre-
miums in the individual market in Ohio.
Unless you want a plan with a $5,000 deductible, the premiums are outrageous.
Upwards of $10,000 per year in some cases. I understand the administrative load
on a typical insurance policy in the individual market can be as high as 40%.
Is that the best way to spend limited federal dollars?
We would get more bang for our buck by expanding existing public programs like
Medicaid, SCHIP, and Medicare.
My colleague Mr. Stark and I have introduced legislation that would enable unin-
sured individuals in the 55-65 age group to buy into Medicare. Thats the fastest
growing segment of the uninsured population, and the segment at the greatest risk
for a catastrophic health event.
Ive also joined Mr. Dingell and others on this subcommittee on legislation that
would provide states additional funding so they can get low income parents and
other groups into Medicaid and SCHIP.
I think we should look seriously at both proposals.
I want to offer one more principle, and it is the most important of them all: lets
not expand coverage by taking away care from current Medicaid beneficiaries.
We are the wealthiest nation in the world. We dont need to make deals with the
devil.
As the committee with jurisdiction over the Medicaid program, we have a respon-
sibility to ensure that the beneficiaries of that program are receiving the benefits
to which they are entitled.
Remember, these beneficiaries live in poverty. Many are severely disabled, most
are children.
I am concerned that the Administration is promoting tradeoffs through the
HIFFA waiver process that could easily undercut access to care for current Med-
icaid beneficiaries.
Some states have asked for waiver authority to impose significant cost sharing,
even enrollment fees, on very low income beneficiaries, using the savings to offer
coverage to higher income individuals.
Think that through: is there that much difference between imposing cost sharing
on a person with no resources, and abandoning that individual altogether? At what
point are we breaking our promise?
This subcommittee has a responsibility to Medicaid beneficiaries. We cannot ig-
nore any action, administrative or legislative, that jeopardizes their access to care.
Mr. Chairman, I hope we can work together on a bipartisan basis to monitor the
HIFFA waiver process and take action if necessary to ensure that current bene-
ficiaries maintain access to the coverage they so clearly need.
Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Mr. BILIRAKIS. All right. I thank the Chairman for his remarks.
Mr. Bryant.
Mr. BRYANT. I want to thank the Chairman for holding this hear-
ing, and I know that is almost a tradition up here. We always start
out by thanking the Chairman for having this hearing.
But I especially mean this today because I dont think that any-
one disagrees with the problem out there being so many people
that are uninsured, and you focusing on this, and how to reach
some realistic solutions to this problem, and bringing in the tal-
ented people and experts that you have brought in today, I think
certainly will help us along that way.
And particularly as we move into a situation with the economy
where we realistically, even though we have seen a decline, a slight
decline over the last year in uninsureds, we likely will see an in-
crease unfortunately.

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And I like your idea, too, that we remain open to all opportuni-
ties out there, whether they be from the administration, or Mr.
Brown, and others, that we look at all possibilities.
And it may not be one comprehensive plan. It may be a series
of different ideas that we are able to reduce this number of
uninsureds. Before I go too much further in this, I want to also join
in with my colleagues that have spoken so far in recognizing John
Eisenberg.
I met Johnhe is a Tennessean by the way, and thats what I
think makes him extra special. Were he still in Tennessee, I would
probably be his Congressman, and I actually met him the day that
this situation occurred with him.
We were at the conference together in Florida, the health care
conference, and I met him that morning. And immediatelyhe still
had a little bit of that southern accent, and so I picked up on that
very quickly, and liked he right away.
And we talked, and actually I was on the tennis court next to
him when he went down at that unfortunate time. And so I fol-
lowed him and got to know his wife, Dee Dee, and we share, all
of us share, that love for tennis that we have, and we are really
all pulling for him.
And I know that this is a difficult time for him, and I am not
sure what all was said before I arrived here, but I just wanted to
add the fact that I have grown to know him and his reputation,
and the fact that he has been so committed to his work here.
And I want to add my thanks, along with those others that have
spoken, and our best wishes as a committee for his continued
health and recovery.
And back to the issue at hand. I want to apologize for being late.
Like so many Members, every Member in Congress, we are bounc-
ing around between hearings all the time, and I was at the TRED
Act before I came over here, but this is where my heart is.
I really have an interest in this, and want to see us come to some
conclusions here. My State of Tennessee has a waiver, and we are
operating under a program called TIN Care, and Tenn care iswe
have addedwe probably provide health coverage to more people
than any other State in the country on a per capita basis. I think
we are No. 1.
Almost 1 in 4 in Tennessee, and so about 24. something percent
of our folks are on Tenn Care, and it is breaking our back finan-
cially. And I am not sure that we want a whole lot more dropped
on us if you start talking about expanding the Medicaid, and things
like that, that would impact us.
And I am sure that other States are the same way. It is kind of
an unfunded mandate to some extent, and we have to be careful
as we look at going down those types of roads to get there.
I can just tell you again that Tenn Care is really financially
strapping our case right now to the point that we are considering
some ways to raise revenue that we have never thought about in
the past, including an income tax. We are one of the few States
that still does not have an income tax, State income tax.
But I will tell you, too, also that we talk a lot about prescription
drugs here, and how are we going to make those available, not just

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to senior citizens, which certainly need prescription drug benefits,


but to others out there.
I mean, it is not just the older folks that are paying high costs
for their drugs, and absolutely, the best answerwell, not the only,
but the best answer to this is that we provide health insurance
that would incorporate a prescription drug benefit.
We provide better access somehow to coverage which would help
solve that problem of prescription drugs. I think the way to do this,
and I would agree with my Chairman, would be incentives out
there, and all these different issues that we have talked about, all
these different programs.
I see them in a more positive light than some on this committee
do. I think there are real opportunities out there to do some good.
And I also today want to hear from the witnessesand I know that
it is probably part or some of your testimony, and I will close with
thisthis issue of uninsurable pools.
Now, I come out of a defense law practice where I represented
insurance companies, and I know that in most States they have at
the insurance level of automobile casualty an uninsurable pool.
I mean, these are the folks that cant get insurance. They have
a bad record. Now, they have the ability to limit the amount of cov-
erage, and do other things that can allow them to do it. But if you
write car insurance in Tennessee, you have to be a part of that
pool, and take your assigned number.
I dont know how that would work with health insurance. It is
not the same thing. Obviously, you cant limit your liability very ef-
fectively, but I would be interested in hearing how other States
handle these uninsurable pools, and with that, I again thank you,
and yield back the balance of my time.
Mr. BILIRAKIS. I thank the gentleman.
Mr. Dingell.
Mr. DINGELL. I want to thank the Chairman and the others for
making it possible for us to hear from the fine witness panel that
we have today. Years ago, Congress passed the Medicare program
as a response to the appalling lack of health insurance among the
elderly.
Today it is the most popular and successful health insurance pro-
gram in the country. It guarantees virtually every senior citizen af-
fordable health care coverage. Millions of other Americans, how-
ever, do not enjoy a similar guarantee.
I think they should, and so in every Congress I have introduced
H.R. 16, a bill that will provide meaningful health care coverage
for all Americans. An incremental solution to provide health care
insurance to more Americans must be designed carefully so that
the current fabric of health care coverage is not undone.
This means protecting existing employer-sponsored coverage
from erosion, and ensuring that those with public insurance can
continue to count on that coverage being both adequate and afford-
able.
On the latter point the health insurance flexibility and account-
able HIFA waivers initiated by this administration cause me great
concern, and I do not believe will meet the test of the light of the
day, because the waivers erode coverage for the poorest, most vul-

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11

nerable Americans, in order to finance coverage for higher income


individuals.
That makes no sense, I suspect, except to those in the higher in-
come brackets, because where the need lies is with those who have
the least, and usually also have the greatest needs.
No solution then can be successful unless it adequately addresses
the needs of low income families, even the healthiest of whom are
unlikely to be able to afford adequate health coverage on their own,
and the needs of those with severe health conditions, even the
wealthiest of whom may find no coverage available, due to exclu-
sions and restrictions on coverage in the private insurance market.
In the current budget context, we may prefer to undertake incre-
mental coverage expansions rather than comprehensive universal
reform. If that is one of the tests we must meet, then so be it.
But our response should be wise. Therefore, it is particularly im-
portant that the efforts to help the uninsured focus on solutions
that will get us the most bang for the buck.
Some, improperly designed, spend billions of precious taxpayer
dollars on subsidies to those who are already insured, or to insur-
ance companies. There are a number of bipartisan bills on both the
House and Senate side that would target coverage to the uninsured
without eroding existing coverage and misdirecting Federal funds.
While these approaches, such as the Family Care Act of 2001,
the Family Opportunity Act, the Legal Immigrant Childrens
Health Improvement Act, would not provide coverage to every sin-
gle one of 40 million uninsured Americans, they would make sub-
stantial progress by extending coverage to some of the most vulner-
able groups of our uninsured people, and would in that process use
taxpayers dollars wisely and well.
Finally, lack of insurance coverage is not the only health care
problem Americans are facing. Many Americans currently insured
find their coverage lacking some of the basic protections that make
health insurance meaningful: access to specialty care; and access to
emergency care; and access to independent external appeals proce-
dures to resolve disputes; care provided according to good medical
practices and reliable accounting principles; and a mechanism to
assure that these mechanisms and protections are enforceable. We
need then to pass a meaningful patients bill of rights to provide
these basic protections.
I am still hopeful that we will, and I look forward to working
with all who will assist me in that undertaking. I look forward also
to hearing from our expert witnesses on options to promote mean-
ingful health care coverage for more Americans.
I hope that this committee and the Congress will soon move for-
ward on the issue, and I thank you for your courtesy to me, Mr.
Chairman.
[The prepared statement of Hon. John D. Dingell follows:]
PREPARED STATEMENT OF HON. JOHN D. DINGELL, A REPRESENTATIVE IN CONGRESS
FROM THE STATE OF MICHIGAN

Today the Health Subcommittee is discussing an issue that is of great importance


to me: providing health care coverage for the uninsured. I thank the majority for
holding a hearing on this crucial topic and I look forward to hearing from our expert
witnesses.

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What motivated Congress to propose the Medicare program nearly half a century
ago was an appalling lack of health insurance among the elderly. Today Medicare
is the most popular and most successful health insurance program in the country,
guaranteeing virtually every senior citizen affordable health care coverage. But mil-
lions of other Americans do not enjoy a similar guarantee. I think they should, so
in every Congress I have introduced H.R. 16, a bill that would provide meaningful
health care coverage to all Americans.
Any incremental solution to provide health insurance to more Americans must be
designed carefully so that the current fabric of health care coverage is not undone.
This means both protecting existing employer-sponsored coverage from erosion and
ensuring that those with public insurance can continue to count on that coverage
being adequate and affordable. On the latter point, the Health Insurance Flexibility
and Accountability (HIFA) waivers initiated by the Bush Administration cause me
great concern, because these waivers erode coverage for the poorest, most vulnerable
Americans in order to finance coverage for higher-income individuals. That makes
no sense.
No solution can be successful unless it adequately addresses the needs of low-in-
come families, even the healthiest of whom are unlikely to be able to afford ade-
quate health coverage on their own, and the needs of those with severe health condi-
tions, even the wealthiest of whom may find no coverage available or exclusions and
restrictions on coverage in the private insurance market.
In the current budget context, we may prefer to undertake incremental coverage
expansions rather than comprehensive, universal reform. Therefore, it is particu-
larly important that efforts to help the uninsured focus on solutions that get us the
most bang for the buck. Some improperly designed approaches spend billions of
precious taxpayer dollars on subsidies to those who are already insured.
There are a number of bipartisan bills in both the House and Senate that would
target coverage to the uninsured without eroding existing coverage and misdirecting
federal funds. While these approaches, such as the FamilyCare Act of 2001, the
Family Opportunity Act, and the Legal Immigrant Childrens Health Improvement
Act, would not provide coverage to every single one of the 40 million uninsured
Americans, they would make substantial progress by extending coverage to some of
the most vulnerable groups of uninsured people, and would use taxpayer dollars
wisely.
Finally, lack of insurance coverage is not the only health care problem Americans
are facing. Many Americans who are currently insured find their coverage lacking
some of the basic protections that make health insurance meaningful: access to spe-
cialty care; access to emergency care; an independent external appeals procedure to
resolve disputes; care provided according to good medical practice; reliable account-
ing principles; and a mechanism to ensure that these protections are enforceable.
We need to pass a meaningful Patients Bill of Rights to provide these basic protec-
tions, and I am still hopeful that we will.
I look forward to hearing from our expert witnesses on options to promote mean-
ingful health care coverage for more Americans. I hope that our Committee, and the
Congress, will soon move forward on this issue.
Mr. BILIRAKIS. Thank you, and the Chair now recognizes the gen-
tleman from Kentucky, Mr. Whitfield.
Mr. WHITFIELD. Mr. Chairman, thank you very much, and obvi-
ously this is a very complex issue that we are dealing with, but I
cant think of a more important issue for this hearing to focus on.
I know in the State of Kentucky, Im sure like many other States,
this is one of the major problems facing people who are uninsured.
We are really in a dilemma, because if your income is X-dollars and
below, then you are covered by Medicaid.
If you are a senior citizen, then you are covered by Medicare.
And, of course, we want to expand that to include a prescription
drug benefit.
But we have lots of people whose employer does not provide
health insurance, or they run their own business. And while they
are paying payroll tax that helps support Medicare and Medicaid,
they cannot afford to buy health insurance for their own families.
And thats why I am anxious to hear from these experts today
to help us come up with a plan, and develop a plan, in which we

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can provide meaningful health care coverage. We have talked about


this, and we have talked about this, and we continue to talk about
this.
But I think it is imperative that we take some action. Now, we
have expanded the coverage for young children under the Medicaid
program, and under the CHIPS program, and we have increased
funding for the community health centers that provides health care
to anybody who wants to come in and receive it.
But community health centers are certainly not available every-
where, and I agree that we certainly want to place emphasis on
those on Medicaid, as well as those on Medicare, but we also need
to start emphasizing those people who are paying payroll tax, but
cannot afford to pay health coverage for themselves.
Now, in Kentucky, 6 or 7 years ago, mandates were placed on
companies that sold health insurance in Kentucky, and every in-
surance company left Kentucky with the exception of one.
And as a result rates skyrocketed, and more people became unin-
sured than before those mandates went into effect. So I think we
have to move very carefully and explore any option that is out
there, but I do think it is imperative that we start taking some ac-
tion to try to solve this problem, and I yield back the balance of
my time.
Mr. BILIRAKIS. I thank you, and the Chair recognizes the gen-
tleman from New Jersey for his opening statement, Mr. Pallone.
Mr. PALLONE. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. Let me say right at the
beginning that I believe in universal health care, and I think that
the government has an obligation to provide health insurance for
everyone.
I realize that is not a position that we can obtain a majority for
in the Congress, in either House probably, but I think ultimately
that should be the goal. The problem that we have had in the last
few years is since the demise I guess of the Clinton health care pro-
posal is that the number of uninsured continue to rise until we in
Congress started to take some steps, like the Childrens Health In-
surance Program, that would try in a sort of case-by-case or area-
by-area situation to reach out to those large groups of uninsured.
And once we put the S-CHIP program in place, and within the
last few years until this recession, we started to see a stabilization
of the numbers of uninsured, and I guess at about 40 million.
But with the recession, and with September 11, those numbers
now are rising again. So I think it is important to have this hear-
ing today. The concern that I have with regard to displaced work-
ers, and workers that lost their jobs or have an inability to find
jobs because of the recession, is that we just really havent dealt
with their problem effectively.
The economic stimulus package, which of course has never been
passed, should have included COBRA extension, and should in-
clude expansion of Medicaid to deal with the problem of displaced
workers, and so far that hasnt occurred.
But beyond that a lot of the workers out there are not eligible
for COBRA, and so an extension does no necessarily help them. We
need to look at innovative ways to deal with their problems, wheth-
er it is expansion of Medicaid or some other suggestions, some of
which have been made today.

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The other problem is that the States face a real crisis with Med-
icaid. My own State of New Jersey is in a terrible situation. We
have a budget deficit that we have to make up, and it is about 12
percent of our budget.
And when our Governor was down here a few weeks ago, he ex-
plained that a big part of that is Medicaid costs. If he could deal
with Medicaid costs in an effective way with Federal help, he could
probably cut back on half of the deficit that he now faces.
My problem with the Presidents proposal is that he announced
essentially in the State of the Union his budget, and that he is ad-
dressing this problem primarily through tax credits, $1,000 or
$2,000.
I just dont think that those are going to work. If they are de-
signed to deal with people who dont have health insurance, and
the idea is that they are going to go out in the individual market
and buy health insurance, we all knowMr. Brown mentioned the
costs are way up.
A thousand dollars or $2,000 for couples is just not going to cut
it. You are not going to be able to buy that insurance. All you are
doing with the Presidents tax credit is probably helping people
that already have insurance, and not the problem that we are try-
ing to address today with the uninsured.
I think that we need toif we are going to take this approach
of just dealing with one sector at a time, rather than dealing with
universal health care, then I think we have to address the problem
of the uninsured essentially with government programs.
An expansion of the CHIP program to cover the adults has been
mentioned, and expansion of Medicaid, and having the near-elder-
ly, which is another large group, be able to buy into Medicare, per-
haps with some sort of subsidy on a sliding scale.
These are the types of things that need to be done, and I am
afraidand I will be partisan now in saying thisthat I dont see
much effort on the part of the President, or even the Republican
leadership, to move in that direction.
They seem to be fixated on the Republican side, and these free-
market approaches, and the tax credits, which are not going to
solve the problem of the uninsured.
And I would simply ask that my colleagues on the other side of
the aisle, lets be a little less ideological. I am sure that we are
going to hear today about the problems. I think if we are a little
less ideological, and we get together behind government programs
that maybe go back to the States, like S-CHIP, and expansion of
S-CHIP, this is the way this is going to go to make a difference
right now for people that dont have health insurance.
And we just have to keep in mind that people are suffering.
When I go out and I have my forums, and I had a few the last few
weeks, this is the major issue. It is this, and it is prescription
drugs.
And we just cant sit around here for another year until the end
of this session and pretend that this problem is going to go away.
Its not and it is getting worse. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Mr. BILIRAKIS. Thank you, and the Chair recognizes the gen-
tleman from Iowa, Dr. Ganske, for his opening statement.

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Mr. GANSKE. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. We have about 40 mil-


lion uninsured, and that is the usual figure that is given, in this
country. Here are some quick ideas that I have just jotted down on
how we can help.
No. 1, we need to get the economy moving. When there is a re-
cession, people lose their health insurance coverage. It is hard for
people to get jobs, and if you dont get jobs, you dont get benefits
from your employers. We should extend the health care benefits to
those who have lost their jobs in this recession.
No. 2. We need to get those who already qualify for existing pro-
grams enrolled. There are many, many States that put up impedi-
ments to enrolling the uninsured. My own home State of Iowa is
an example of this. You have to re-up every month for Medicaid.
Other States have 25 or 30 page forms you fill out, and other
States may have one office every 200 miles on the second floor.
No. 3. We need to get signed into law the Ganske-Dingell Pa-
tients Bill of Rights, because there are some very good access pro-
visions in that bill. For instance, the expansion of medical savings
accounts, tax deductibility for the self-employed, 100 percent; tax
credit for uninsured small employers; private foundation grants to
purchasing co-ops.
There are all sorts of things in that bill. I think it would help.
No. 4, the money that the States are receiving for the tobacco
settlement should be used for health care.
It is being siphoned off for other uses. Iowa is one of the few
States in the country that is devoting 100 percent, or at least near-
ly 100 percent of the tobacco money, to health care. Other States
are using it for many other different purposes.
No. 5. The Governors are asking for ways to deal with the high
cost of prescription drugs in their Medicaid programs. We need to
address that issue.
No. 6. We need to address the issue of the high cost of prescrip-
tion drugs, and why this country is paying a premium, the citizens
in this country, and basically subsidizing the rest of the world.
We passed a reimportation bill by huge bipartisan majorities in
both the House and the Senate. It has not been implemented and
we should do so. There are many, many ways that we can address
this.
I am glad that the Chairman is dealing with and has called for
this hearing, and I look forward to reviewing the testimony of our
witnesses, and thank you for coming.
Mr. BILIRAKIS. Thank you.
The Chair recognizes the gentlelady from California, Ms. Capps,
for her opening statement.
Ms. CAPPS. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I appreciate the decision
to hold this hearing and the witnesses who will testify. As was just
said by my colleague, Mr. Ganske, nearly one-seventh of all Ameri-
cans, somewhere around 40 million people, cannot get access to
routine health care because they lack health insurance.
They either cannot afford insurance, or are not insurable for
some medical reason, and this is a terrible problem for our country.
These people are being forced to gamble with their health and with
their livelihoods. They have to bet that they will stay healthy and
not require health care.

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Each day they wonder if this is the day that their luck will run
out, and is the day that they, or a dependent loved one, contract
a terrible disease. Will today be the day that they or their family
are stricken by something that will fill their life with pain and
bankrupt them.
These people should not have to face such fears without the secu-
rity that insurance can provide. And beyond the potential suffering
of individuals and families, this is a problem that is very costly for
the American public as a whole.
Today as we are so preoccupied, and rightly so, with national se-
curity, this is a national security issue. It is easy for many Ameri-
cans who are insured to think that this is not their problem, but
it is. Because the uninsured cannot easily get routine care, they
end up in the emergency rooms for more severe and more costly
conditions. But since they cannot pay for their care, the taxpayers
and other patients will pay for them, and it will cost more than if
the government or some insurance program had helped the unin-
sured in the first place.
This simply does not make any sense. We need to find a better
way to help the uninsured. These are not deadbeats. They are not
people trying to take advantage of the system. They are hard-
working people, whose employers cannot or will not help them.
They are good Americans who have been laid off because of the
economy and cannot pay premiums, deductibles, or co-payments.
They are men and women who are taking care of a family on their
own, and need health insurance. They deserve our help.
For many of us, these are numbers, and staggering numbers. But
for me, who spent two decades as a school nurse, they are faces,
because school nurses spend a disproportionate amount of their
time finding solutions, or helping families cope with problems be-
cause they cant find insurance.
When you can call the parent of a sick child who has insurance,
it makes your job really easy, but I came face-to-face and worked
on a daily basis with those parents, anguished, and who struggled
to find access to health care for the dearest possessions they
owned.
And they felt ashamed and defeated when they could not do
such. Some have suggested that we can solve this problem with tax
credits for health care, but this would be a very expensive approach
and frankly I am doubtful that credits would go very far.
A credit of $1,000 or even $3,000 for a family would not even
cover the average premium, and does nothing for deductibles or
cost-sharing, meaning that most of the uninsured still would not be
able to afford coverage.
Now, there is a proposal to expand the State high risk pools, but
this might create insurance ghettos of the sickest and poorest,
making it even more expensive to provide them with health cov-
erage.
The administration wants to give the States more flexibility to
expand their Medicaid and S-CHIP programs to include more peo-
ple. Some innovative changes might be worth looking at, but there
is a real possibility that the States would provide questionable cov-
erage for the poor by reducing benefits or imposing increased cost-
sharing on those who are even poorer.

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This would undermine the point of such an effort. Some of my


colleagues on this side of the aisle suggest that we might better ad-
dress the problem by enabling more people to access Medicaid and
CHIP benefits as they are now.
My colleagues, Mr. Dingell, and Mr Waxman, in particular have
championed this approach, and I have been proud to support their
efforts. In this time of budgetary limits and competing national pri-
orities it is important that we make sure that Federal dollars are
spent wisely.
We need to make sure that we do not throw money away on ap-
proaches, as has been mentioned already, that will not work. In-
stead, we need to make sure that resources are focused on legiti-
mate proposals with positive outcomes.
So I look forward to hearing the witnesses perspectives on these
proposals, and the issue as a whole. Their expertise will be useful
in making these judgments, and enacting solutions. I think this
committee needs to listen very carefully, and make a truly in-
formed decision to address this problem.
So I am glad, Mr. Chairman, that you have called this hearing,
and I look forward to working with you on it. I yield back my time.
[The prepared statement of Hon. Lois Capps follows:]
PREPARED STATEMENT OF HON. LOIS CAPPS, A REPRESENTATIVE IN CONGRESS FROM
THE STATE OF CALIFORNIA

Thank you Mr. Chairman. I appreciate your decision to hold this hearing.
Nearly 17th of all Americans, somewhere around 40 million people, cannot get ac-
cess to routine health care because they lack health insurance.
They either cannot afford insurance or are not insurable for some medical reason.
This is a terrible problem for our country.
These people are being forced to gamble with their health and with their liveli-
hoods. They have to bet that they will stay healthy and not require health care.
Each day, they wonder if today is the day that their luck will run out. Is today
the day that they or a dependent loved one contract a terrible disease? Will today
be the day that they or their family are stricken by something that will fill their
life with pain and bankrupt them? These people should not have to face these fears
without the security that insurance can provide.
And beyond the potential suffering of individuals and families, this is a problem
that is very costly for the American public as a whole.
It is easy for many Americans who are insured to think that this is not their prob-
lem. But it is. Because the uninsured cannot easily get routine care, they end up
in the emergency rooms for more severe and more costly conditions.
But since they cannot pay for their care, the taxpayers and other patients will
pay for them. And it will cost more than if the government had helped the unin-
sured in the first place.
This simply does not make sense. We need to find a better way to help the unin-
sured. These are not deadbeats. They are not people trying to take advantage of the
system.
They are hardworking people whose employers cannot or will not help them. They
are good Americans who have been laid off because of the economy and cannot pay
premiums, deductibles, or copayments. They are men and women who are taking
care of a family on their own and need health insurance. They deserve our help.
Some have suggested that we can solve this problem with tax credits for health
care. But this would be a very expensive approach, and frankly I am doubtful that
the credits would go very far.
A credit of $1000, or $3000 for a family, would not even cover the average pre-
mium and does nothing for deductibles or cost sharing, meaning that most of the
uninsured would still not be to afford coverage.
Another proposal is to expand the state high-risk pools. But this might create in-
surance ghettos of the sickest and poorest, making it even more expensive to provide
them with health coverage.
The Administration wants to give the states more flexibility to expand their Med-
icaid and S-CHIP programs to include more people. Some innovative changes might

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18
be worth looking at. But there is a real possibility that the states would provide
questionable coverage for the poor by reducing benefits or imposing increased cost
sharing on those who are even poorer. This would undermine the point of such an
effort.
Some of my colleagues on this side of the aisle suggest that we might better ad-
dress this problem by enabling more people to access Medicaid and SCHIP benefits
as they are now. My colleagues, Mr. Dingell and Mr. Waxman in particular, have
championed this approach, and I have been proud to support their efforts.
In this time of budgetary limits and competing national priorities it is important
that we make sure that federal dollars are spent wisely. We need to make sure we
do not throw money away on approaches that will not work. Instead we need to
make sure resources are focused on legitimate proposals with positive outcomes.
So I look forward to hearing the witnesses perspectives on these proposals and
the issue as a whole. Their expertise will be useful in making these judgements and
enacting solutions.
I think this committee needs to listen carefully and make a truly informed deci-
sion to address this problem.
So I am glad that you have called this hearing today Mr. Chairman, and I look
forward to working with you on it.
Mr. BILIRAKIS. Thank you. The Chair recognizes the gentlelady
from New Mexico, Ms. Wilson.
Ms. WILSON. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I know that we have a
vote pending, and I will keep my remarks short. By most esti-
mates, New Mexico leads the Nation in uninsured citizens. In the
year 2000, 24 percent of New Mexicans did not have health insur-
ance, compared to a national average of 14 percent.
It is a huge problem, and it has only gotten worse in the last few
years. For a poor State like New Mexico, I think it is highly un-
likely that we will be able to solve this problem ourselves without
some help from the Federal Government.
And I also dont believe that there is a single bullet solution. I
suspect that there will be a pattern of things that we may be able
to put together at the State level, and from the private sector, from
the Federal Government, to reduce the number of people who are
uninsured, and need health insurance.
The most common reasons for a lack of coverage are costs or un-
availability, but what really strikes me is the number of people
who have a job that offers health care who decline that health care,
often because of costs.
Of the about 42 million people who are uninsured, 16.7 million,
or 40 percent, are families with an employer offeror of insurance,
but the insurance was declined. In addition, 17.3 million people are
in families connected with the work force, but have received no
offer of insurance.
In other words, they work for a business, a small business em-
ployer, or self-employed, and they dont have health insurance cov-
erage offered to them. So really a little bit over 80 percent of the
uninsured are in families connected with the work force.
These are in many cases the working poor. I think there is a tre-
mendous opportunity to improve our employer-based system, as
well as to improve the safety net systems that help those who can-
not make it just on their own to provide health care for their fami-
lies.
I very much thank the Chairman for holding this hearing, and
giving us an opportunity to look at a variety of different solutions,
and how they might work together, because as I say, I dont think
there is one answer to this problem. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

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Mr. BILIRAKIS. And I thank you.


We are in a vote, and about halfway through that, and we have
at least one more vote after that, or two votes, and so I am won-
dering if the gentleman from Ohio, Mr. Strickland, would you like
to move forward, or would you like to come back?
Mr. STRICKLAND. I think I would like to give my statement.
Mr. BILIRAKIS. Well, lets go ahead and recognize you for your
statement.
Mr. STRICKLAND. Mr. Chairman, I attended a funeral recently, a
funeral of a young woman by the name of Patsy Haines, and I have
talked about Patsy before this committee over the months.
She had chronic leukemia, and she was in need of a bone marrow
transport, and her insurance company refused to pay for that
transplant, and finally we got her qualified under Medicare, 2
years after her surgery should have been performed.
She received her surgery, and a few days later died, and I won-
der as I sit here would Patsy Haines be alive today if she had re-
ceived this surgery when her physician first said she needed it.
And I point out this issue of Patsy Haines because I think we
need to remember that we are talking about real people, and it is
shameful that in this country today we do not have a patients bill
of rights which protects people like Patsy Haines and her family
from the mistreatment they receive from insurance companies, who
are more concerned with the bottom line than with patient care.
Mr. Chairman, the majority of the uninsured today are a part of
working families who do not have access to employer sponsored in-
surance benefits, or whose benefits are inexpensive and provide
only bare bones coverage.
Furthermore, about 10 million children are uninsured, and that
is particularly tragic since so much of a childs pediatric health care
is crucial to ensuring that he or she can live a healthy adult life.
The State Childrens Health Insurance Program does much to re-
duce the number of uninsured kids, providing important basic and
cost effective health care to millions.
However, the program has gaps that include not providing for
pre-natal care for expectant mothers, or ensuring that children are
not forced to wait until coverage is provided.
It is for these reasons that I have introduced H.R. 3729, the
Start Healthy, Stay Healthy, Act. This bipartisan bill seeks to ex-
pand the S-CHIP program by giving States incentives to cover pre-
natal care for pregnant women, increasing the eligibility age
through the age of 20, and prohibiting waiting periods for pregnant
women, and reducing administrative barriers to the program.
It also provides coverage to any pregnant woman, regardless of
her age, if she meets the income guidelines. But regardless of what
approach that we take to reducing the ranks of the uninsured, I
hope that we do not simply attempt to placate those who are call-
ing for action by offering an inadequate benefit that fails to address
the real problem of a lack of a comprehensive health care service.
Such an approach would not only hurt the currently uninsured
beneficiaries by giving them something that they cannot really use,
it could devastate our current employer-based system of health in-
surance coverage.

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We must make a strong commitment if we are going to provide


benefits that will truly help those who are currently without ready
access to health care. And in closing I would just like to associate
myself with remarks of Representative Pallone.
The real answer is a comprehensive, complete, universal health
care system in this country that does not let American citizens like
Patsy Haines or some 10 million children go without the health
care that they need. And I yield back the balance of my time.
Mr. BILIRAKIS. I thank the gentleman. We have one vote, and
Mr. Green tells me that he can get his statement in very quickly.
So, the gentleman from Texas is recognized.
Mr. GREEN. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I would like to put my
total statement in, but let me reiterate what Ms. Wilson said from
New Mexico, and myself from Texas; the uninsured is a serious
problem, particularly with the Latino community.
Even though Latinos only comprise 12 percent of the United
States population, they have one quarter of the uninsured. Like my
colleagues, I support the Family Care Act sponsored by our Rank-
ing Member, John Dingell, to expand Medicaid and S-CHIP cov-
erage, low income adults, and a particular project that we have
been working on, and I appreciate the help of the chairman of our
subcommittee on the Community Access Program, the CAP Pro-
gram, to make grants, and how we can make the current system
work more efficiently.
And we have had some success with that over the last 2 years,
and we have the authorization bill, H.R. 3450, and I appreciate any
support on that. My last concern before we go vote is that last Au-
gust the Department of HHS provided administrative guidance to
help States expand the number of individuals eligible for Medicaid
or S-CHIP coverage.
It sounded really good, but the problem is that it had to be budg-
et neutral, and it is hard to expand some of these programs and
make it budget neutral, because you are trying to serve more folks.
But, again, Mr. Chairman, I thank you for letting me talk as fast
as I could coming from Texas.
[The prepared statement of Hon. Gene Green follows:]
PREPARED STATEMENT OF HON. GENE GREEN, A REPRESENTATIVE IN CONGRESS FROM
THE STATE OF TEXAS

Thank you Mr. Chairman for holding a hearing today on what is one of the most
pressing issues this subcommittee will considerhow best to expand health care
coverage to uninsured Americans.
More than 39 million Americans do not have health insurance. With the downturn
in the economy, this number is expected to increase significantly.
The uninsured are hard working Americans. Eighty percent of the uninsured
come from working families.
Not surprisingly, though, these individuals are working in low-earning jobs. Near-
ly two-thirds of the uninsured are individuals who make less than 200% of the fed-
eral poverty level.
While all Americans are struggling to find affordable health insurance, minorities
are much more likely to be uninsured. For example, Latinos comprise only 12 per-
cent of the U.S. population, but nearly one quarter of the uninsured.
The problem of the uninsured is serious in Texas, where 4 million individuals, or
26.8 percent of our non-elderly population, are without health insurance.
Mr. Chairman, uninsured adults are far more likely than the insured to postpone
or forgo health care altogether and are less able to afford prescription drugs or fol-
low through with recommended treatments.

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According to one report, nearly 40% of uninsured adults skip a recommended
medical test or treatment, and 20% say they have needed but did not received care
for a serious problem in the past year.
Because the uninsured dont have access to primary or preventive health care,
they are more likely to be hospitalized for avoidable health problems such as hyper-
tension and diabetes.
Our nations health care safety net is in dire need of repair.
I am a strong supporter of legislation such as the Family Care Act, sponsored by
Ranking Member Dingell, which would expand Medicaid and S-CHIP coverage to
low-income adults.
I also support efforts to double the funding for our core safety-net providers, such
as Community Health Centers, public hospitals, and state departments of health,
and private hospitals.
These providers have been working together in cities and towns all over the coun-
try, developing community-based programs to address the problem of the uninsured.
These coalitions use funding through the Community Access Program (CAP) dem-
onstration project to identify ways to better tend to the uninsured.
Funding under CAP can be used to support a variety of projects to improve access
for all levels of care for the uninsured and under-insured.
Each community designs a program that best addresses the needs of its uninsured
and under insured and its providers.
I am a strong supporter of this program, having seen how well it has worked in
my hometown of Houston, Texas.
Their project aims to improve the interagency communication and referral infra-
structure of major health care systems in the city, which will improve their ability
to provide preventive, primary and emergency clinical health services in an inte-
grated and coordinated manner.
Mr. Chairman, the CAP demonstration project has worked well in more than 75
communities across the country. We should fully authorize this program so that
more communities can develop plans that will help us provide health care to all
Americans.
I have introduced legislation, the Community Access to Health Care Act, which
has seventy-six bipartisan cosponsors, several of whom are members of this com-
mittee.
I know we have worked with your office to see this program included in H.R.
3450, and I appreciate your efforts in that regard. I hope we can see movement of
this bill so that we can authorize this important program.
Mr. Chairman, Id like to shift gears for a moment now to discuss another impor-
tant issue, one that I have serious concerns about.
Last August, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) provided ad-
ministrative guidance to help states expand the number of individuals eligible for
Medicaid or S-CHIP coverage.
On the surface this sounds like a good idea, and something I would support.
Unfortunately, the Administrations requirement that these expansions be budget
neutral poses a serious problem for current Medicaid populations.
Some of the pending waivers would cut benefits for current Medicaid enrollees in
order to expand the program to other populations. This is a classic example of rob-
bing Peter to pay Paul.
The problem is that current Medicaid enrollees are THE most vulnerable popu-
lations in our country.
Medicaid serves low income seniors, children, and the disabled. These are individ-
uals who rely on Medicaid to get essential, critical health care.
I have grave concerns that these waivers could cause harm to the very people
Medicaid was designed to serve.
I also doubt that we can truly expand these programs without providing commen-
surate increases in funding.
Finally, I am disturbed that the Secretary will be able to negotiate these waivers
without any public comment or input.
This proposal leaves Medicaid enrollees without a seat at the bargaining table,
without a say, and without representation. That is not what this country was found-
ed on.
Mr. Chairman, this is obviously a complex issue, and I look forward to hearing
from our witnesses about these issues and others.
Thank you, and I yield back the balance of my time.
Mr. BILIRAKIS. Well, we have another offer from Mr. Towns, who
is also going to talk very fast also and get his statement in before
the vote.

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Mr. TOWNS. Mr. Chair, I would like to ask that my statement be


entered in the record.
Mr. BILIRAKIS. Granted.
Mr. TOWNS. I hope that this hearing will encourage the Congress
to act in a positive way. This is a shame that we have allowed this
to occur in this country, and I am hoping that we would take some
action and take it real soon, because they have over 40 million peo-
ple who are uninsured. So, Mr. Chairman, I yield back.
[The prepared statement of Hon. Ed Towns follows:]
PREPARED STATEMENT OF HON. ED TOWNS, A REPRESENTATIVE IN CONGRESS FROM
THE STATE OF NEW YORK

Chairman Bilirakis. Thank you for holding this very important hearing today. The
United States has one of the best health care systems in the world in terms of ac-
cess and health care choices. The majority of the U.S. population receives health
care coverage through employment-based plans. However there is a growing popu-
lation of more than 40 million uninsured Americans. Most uninsured Americans are
minorities, low to moderate incomes level, adults between the ages of 18-24 and
workers who are not offered or can not afford insurance through the work place.
As a result, their ability to take advantage of our advanced medical systems is lim-
ited the emergency room because of lack their of health insurance.
The U.S. Census Bureau conducted a survey in March 2001. The survey found
that one out of seven Americans went without health insurance for the entire cal-
endar year of 2000. Yet, over half of all uninsured people were full-time, workers
or their dependents. In addition, more than 25 percent of those who worked less
than full-time, or who were not employed for the full year, were without coverage.
The issue of the uninsured is not only an individual issue but also one that im-
pacts small businesses. Many small businesses are unable to provide employee cov-
erage because small group health insurance coverage is too costly for most busi-
nesses and lacks the ability to design affordable health care packages.
I have addressed many issues that the witnesses will make recommendations on
today, but I would also like to bring to this committees attention a specific ethnic
groups uninsured plight. Once again, using the information from the U.S. Census,
the largest uninsured group in the U.S. are people of Hispanic origin. The data
shows that Hispanics have the highest percentage of working uninsured people.
Many Hispanics like my constituents, are unable to secure health insurance because
low wages, employment migration or insurance are not offered.
Hopefully, todays hearing will begin to provoke the needed action in Congress to
formulate legislation on this critical issue. I look forward to hearing from todays
witnesses.
Mr. BILIRAKIS. Thank you.
[Additional statements submitted for the record follow:]
PREPARED STATEMENT OF HON. FRED UPTON, A REPRESENTATIVE IN CONGRESS FROM
THE STATE OF MICHIGAN

Mr. Chairman, thank you for holding todays hearing on the uninsured and alter-
natives for addressing this serious gap in our nations health care system. Nearly
ten percent of Michiganders have no health insurance, and nationally, 14 percent
of our population is without coverage.
As Members of Congress responsive to our constituents, every day we see in let-
ters and in our casework the often very poignant faces behind these statistics. Re-
cently, for example, I heard from a family member of a 60-year-old widow suffering
from congestive heart failure. She had no private health insurance, and because she
had a small piece of rental property, she did not qualify for Medicaid. She already
owed bills from prior hospitalizations, and because she could not pay these in full,
she was refusing to seek further health care. In increasing desperation, her family
went from agency to agency, but found no help for her. While we were able to pro-
vide some help and hope for her, how many more individuals and families are going
through similarly desperate experiences?
A nations greatness is measured not only in the might of its armies or the size
of its economy. It is measured as well, and perhaps in the end most significantly,
in its care for those who most need a helping handthe sick, the disabled, and the
less fortunate. I believe that most people in this nation believe that access to afford-

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23
able basic health care is a fundamental human right and that individuals and fami-
lies should not be denied care because they cannot afford to pay for that care.
And there are practical reasons, as well, that we must tackle the problem of the
uninsured. The uninsured populations overall health status may be lower, and indi-
viduals overall productivity may be lower. The uninsured are less likely to receive
basic health care services than insured individuals, and as a result are more likely
to seek care in costly emergency room settings. We all pay for these costs in terms
of higher premiums and greater demands on publicly funded programs. At some
point, we create a vicious cyclehigher premiums push insurance out of the reach
of increasing numbers of individuals, employees, and employers.
Mr. Chairman, we have a proud tradition in this Subcommittee of expanding ac-
cess to health care and health care coverage through our nations community health
centers, the National Health Service Corps, Medicaid, Medicare, and the State Chil-
drens Health Program. In this Congress, I want us to continue this tradition by
working together on bipartisan ways to extend health care coverage to the nearly
40 million Americansmost of whom are in working familieswho have no health
insurance coverage.

PREPARED STATEMENT OF HON. BARBARA CUBIN, A REPRESENTATIVE IN CONGRESS


FROM THE STATE OF WYOMING

Thank you, Mr. Chairman.


We are confronted with many different variables in trying to understand the
plight of the uninsured in this country.
Factors like employment status, industry sectors, age, family, race, income, and
geography all play a role in whether or not an individual may have health insur-
ance.
So much of what we face in my home state of Wyoming, in terms of the unin-
sured, comes down to our rural status.
Wyoming has roughly 480,000 people, and 100,000 square miles of rugged terrain.
Access to medical care and facilities is limited, and folks often travel hundreds
of miles across the state, in adverse climate conditions, just to see a doctor.
In 2000, Wyoming had roughly 70,000 people under the age of 65 who were unin-
sured. Competition among health insurers in the state is scarce as there are only
3 main companies that control the lions share of the market.
Without competition, health insurers have no incentive to keep premiums down,
which in turn leads to an increase in the number of uninsured.
Wyoming does not have an adequate population size to bring in new health insur-
ers, and I believe that is the case with the majority of rural states. Another issue
we face with the uninsured in Wyoming is our large small business contingency.
My state has nearly 15,000 businesses with under 100 employees each, and the
majority of those businesses do not offer health insurance to their employees be-
cause it is too expensive, and choices are limited.
In fact, I was alarmed to learn that 60 percent of small businesses nationwide
do not offer health insurance to their employees. That is very substantial consid-
ering the small business community represents 99.7 percent of all employers.
It stands to reason that if we can help small businesses gain access to health in-
surance, this could be a giant step toward vastly reducing the number of uninsured
in this country.
I also believe tax incentives could induce greater competition in the health care
market, which could then encourage insurers to come into remote areas of the coun-
try.
Again, getting our hands around this whole issue is very challenging because of
the many variables. However, bit by bit, we can incorporate real, positive changes
that can help the private health insurance industry function more efficiently.
Thank you. I yield back my time.

PREPARED STATEMENT OF HON. ROBERT L. EHRLICH, JR., A REPRESENTATIVE IN


CONGRESS FROM THE STATE OF MARYLAND
Mr. Chairman, thank you for holding this important hearing today on one of the
most significant public health problems in the United States: nearly one out of
seven Americans today, or almost 40 million people, are without health insurance.
In Maryland, there are approximately 750,000 citizens who are uninsured.
Whats left to the uninsured is a health care safety net of inpatient and ambula-
tory health care providers that are legally obligated to provide care for those who
cannot afford to pay for it. This safety net includes public and private nonprofit hos-

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pitals (often teaching hospitals), public health departments, and community health
clinics (CHCs), including federally qualified health centers (FQHCs). In Maryland,
due to the unique nature of health care delivery, our critical care hospitals Emer-
gency Rooms have taken on the role of being de facto primary care providers. As
you can imagine, this system is neither cost effective for hospitals nor desirable for
patients long-term.
Clearly, steps Congress can take to assist the employer-based health system as
well as reduce the number of uninsured are critical to the health of our citizens.
I am pleased to consider President Bushs Fiscal Year 2003 budget, which includes
a refundable tax credit for health insurance for individuals under age 65. For low-
income taxpayers, the credit would equal 90% of the premium and would be de-
creased for higher incomes; the credit would be phased out at $30,000 for individ-
uals and at $60,000 for families. The amount of the credit is limited to $1,000 for
an adult covered by a policy and $500 for each child, up to two children. The Admin-
istrations tax credit proposal may allow 6 million or more Americans who would
otherwise be uninsured to gain coverage.
Mr. Chairman, I agree with the President that tax incentives greatly assist people
with the cost of insuranceand will increase the number of insured Americans. For
the past two Congresses, I have joined Congressman John Cooksey (R-LA), a physi-
cian, and Majority Leader Dick Armey (R-TX) to introduce the Patient Access,
Choice, and Equity (PACE) Act. H.R. 2250 uses the tax code to give the subsidy di-
rectly to the individual to reduce the number of uninsured, improve choice, port-
ability, eliminate tax inequity, and increase efficiency in our health care coverage
system. On our subcommittee, Congressmen Bryant (R-TN) and Shadegg (R-AZ) as
well as Congresswoman Cubin (R-WY) and Chairman Tauzin are also original co-
sponsors of the PACE Act, which I encourage my colleagues to consider to help ex-
pand access to health insurance.
Mr. Chairman, thank your holding this important hearing. I look forward to hear-
ing from our witnesses to discuss steps we may take to increase the number of
Americans with health insurance.

PREPARED STATEMENT OF HON. CHAIRMAN W.J. BILLY TAUZIN, CHAIRMAN,


COMMITTEE ON ENERGY AND COMMERCE
Thank you Mr. Chairman: I want to commend you for holding this important
hearing. The problem of the approximately 40 million uninsured in America has
been a persistent one. For a few years, the strong economy and low health care cost
inflation seemed to make a dent in the problem of the uninsured with the overall
number lowered by as many as 3 million. Now I fear that rising health care costs
and a weaker economy jeopardize these gains. Employers and particularly small
businesses face increasing pressures, which make provision of health insurance ben-
efits difficult. Public programs like Medicaid and SCHIP are also under pressure as
Governors must face tightening budgets and falling State revenues.
A strong and growing economy is the engine that allows us to make progress on
social problems like access to affordable health care. Mandates that increase private
sector health care costs and policies which do not promote economic growth can
leave us helpless to address other issues. At this time, and always, we must temper
our desire to spend more resources with our need to enact smart policies. We need
smart policy to address those who are left in the gaps between public programs, like
Medicaid and SCHIP, and those who have health benefits through their employers
or the individual market.
WHO ARE THE UNINSURED? These are people generally above the official pov-
erty level, and sometimes several times above that level. Nonetheless, they have dif-
ficulty finding low-cost affordable health insurance. As a result, this group experi-
ences reduced access to care. They are also more likely to delay seeking care. Often
the uninsured must receive their health care services in a more costly emergency
room setting. Providers of health care, especially hospitals, but also physicians, are
often uncompensated for the care that they provide to uninsured individuals, and
may seek to shift the cost of that care to other private and public payers.
The President has provided thoughtful leadership on this subject which deserves
our support. He has proposed a refundable tax credit, which would be available to
anyone under 65 without employer-sponsored or public insurance. The Presidents
proposal provides up to $1,000 for a single person and up to $3,000 for a family with
two or more children. For lower-income Americans, the proposed health insurance
credit generally covers more than half of the premium the purchaser would face,
and almost always covers more than a third of the premium. In addition, those
workers who lose their jobs and health insurance would still be able to take advan-

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25
tage of this credit regardless of whether or not COBRA continuation coverage was
available to them. This is particularly important to those part-time and seasonal
workers because they would be able to retain the coverage they purchase with the
tax credit even if their jobs change. The Administration estimates at least 6 million
uninsured Americans would gain health coverage under this proposal.
This policy emphasizes a number of values and marries smart policy with addi-
tional resources. These values include individual choice of insurance plans, port-
ability, strengthening of the private sector insurance mechanisms, and account-
ability. Changes to Medicaid often require passage of further state law provisions
which can take time and involve extended bureaucracy. The Presidents proposal,
on the other hand, can be implemented quickly. There is much to commend it. I
know it wont solve all the problems of the uninsured but it would make a difference
to millions.
I think we can also learn from the history of state initiatives over the past few
years. We have seen experiment in mandates which undermine the integrity of the
insurance market. Clearly, we need to learn from the mistakes of several states and
avoid pernicious mandates and focus more of our attention on how we can improve
the individual market through market reforms. One such idea that our Committee
has focused on is the promotion of high-risk pools. In the recently passed stimulus
bill, we set aside $100 million expressly for that purpose. Our legislation provides
states which currently do not have high-risk pools with seed money to start new
programs. Additionally, that bill give states matching funds if they are willing to
cap the premium amounts that individuals pay in the pool to 150% of the average
policy rate. I am not going to say that the consolidation of individual tax credit,
along with vibrant high-risk pools, is the answer to the problem of the uninsured.
But it is certainly a good start.
Our Committee will be working on additional legislation in the future to ensure
that some key reforms in the insurance market are implemented. Reforms such as
finding a new, more stable revenue source for the States, so they can offer high-
quality, affordable coverage; and policies that may allow more families to take ad-
vantage of SCHIP if they utilize private health insurance. Families should not be
forced into public programs against their will. The private insurance market works.
We should apply it in our effort to solve this critical problem.
Finally, I want to emphasize that these initiatives should not be partisan. Let me
stress: we would be using considerable public resources to help address an impor-
tant issue; that is a far cry from where both parties stood on this issue over the
past few years.
There is much to be done, and I am pleased our President is showing leadership
on ideas that focus on individual choice. I look forward to hearing from todays wit-
nesses on this important topic.

PREPARED STATEMENT OF HON. HENRY A. WAXMAN, A REPRESENTATIVE IN CONGRESS


FROM THE STATE OF CALIFORNIA

I just want to make a brief comment today.


First, I am glad, of course, that this Subcommittee is focusing once again on the
serious problem we have in this country of some 40 million people who are unin-
sured. We all know this problem is severe. We all know it has existed for years and
years, and we have failed to address it adequately. We all know that it is inexcus-
able for a country like ours to allow this problem to persist.
And yet, over and over again, we have failed to take action. That has to change.
This shouldnt be about ideology. This shouldnt be about partisanship. This
should be about devising a system that works, and getting people the coverage they
need.
It is our responsibility to act. But it is also our responsibility to pass a program
that will work:
That means we have to have a plan that doesnt only reduce the number of unin-
sured but that also assures that people who really need medical services are in-
cluded in the ranks of people who get coverage. If what we do results in coverage
that is affordable only for the young and healthy who are unlikely to need much
service, but leaves behind people who are less healthy, people who have medical
conditions, people who are olderthen we will have taken a step in exactly the
wrong direction.
I fear a system of individual tax credits will do exactly that. It can never work
without radical reform of the individual health insurance market. And that means
not only guaranteed issue and no preexisting condition requirements, it also means
that the rates for the coverage must be affordable. That means affordable for people

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26
who have medical problems. That part is always the missing piece in this debate.
Surely we should have learned that lesson from our experience with the Health In-
surance Portability Act (HIPA)
We also have to be sure that what we do does not result in a deterioration of the
coverage that is already out there. Anything that results in employers dropping the
group coverage that is already there will not only move us backward, it risks under-
mining the very core of our existing coverage system.
Finally, I would just note that we do know that there are programs out there that
can work. Medicaid is certainly one. I am proud to note that this year, as a result
of the legislation we passed in the late 80s, we now will have every child below pov-
erty covered in the Medicaid program. Many said then that could not be done. But
it has been, one year at a time. And it has provided a base for the expansions that
have occurred with the CHIP program.
This is significant progress, and we should build on it.
I look forward to hearing from our witnesses today, and to working with my col-
leagues on both sides of the aisle to bring real health insurance coverage to the mil-
lions of Americans who are uninsured today.

PREPARED STATEMENT OF HON. BART STUPAK, A REPRESENTATIVE IN CONGRESS


FROM THE STATE OF MICHIGAN

Mr. Chairman, thank you for holding this important hearing today. The ongoing
issue of Americas uninsured is of paramount importance.
To our credit, we have had extraordinary success in getting people insured with
Medicare and the Childrens Health Insurance Program or CHIPs.
Very few senior citizens are uninsuredabout 1 percent, or 420,000. The quality
of this coverage is a subject for another hearing.
By September 30, 2002 all children under 18 will be required to be covered under
Medicaid, up to 100% of the federal poverty level.
The majority of uninsuredapproximately 32 millionare those Americans be-
tween 19 and 65.
We currently have approximately 43 million uninsured, about 15% of the total
population.
This number is growing daily.
Last week during Presidents Day recess I toured my district.
Not a day went past that I did not have a constituent coming up to me to voice
their concern over the high rate of health insurance premiums, in some cases up
to 50% over the past two years.
The Administration proposes a tax credit to help cover the uninsured.
Lets say this credit is for $3000 per family.
Lets say a person can actually qualify for this credit, and wait a year for his tax
return to be credited for this amount.
Most programs you can use this credit on cost about $7300, with a deductible of
$1000.
This means the family receiving this voucher has to pay out of pocket $4300 per
year, with higher optional coverage for prescription drugs, pre-existing health condi-
tions, etc.
Because the majority of the uninsured are from low-income families, do we really
think this approach is really going to work?
Mr. Chairman, if you think we have an uninsured problem now, wait until the
insurance premiums go up even further.
I have to askis it time to institute government price controls on insurance pre-
miums for health insurance?
Thank you, and I yield back the balance of my time.

PREPARED STATEMENT OF HON. ELIOT ENGEL, A REPRESENTATIVE IN CONGRESS FROM


THE STATE OF NEW YORK

Mr. Chairman, thank you for holding this hearing on the uninsured. It is certainly
an issue that we in Congress need to address. I hope this Committee will take a
good hard look at the problem and work to improve this terrible situation.
I find it ludicrous that almost 40 million Americans currently have no health in-
surance whatsoever. We cannot allow this situation to continue. The President has
included $29 billion over 10 years in his budget proposal for tax credits for low-in-
come individuals to help purchase private health insurance. While I welcome efforts
to assist the uninsured, this approach is simply inadequate and misguided. In fact,
the Presidents Economic Report estimated that the tax credit would help only 6

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27
million individuals obtain coverage, leaving more than 34 million people out in the
cold. Other estimates suggest that the tax credit will reach far fewer uninsured indi-
viduals than the Presidents estimate of 6 million. I am concerned that the tax cred-
it will simply assist those already with insurance and do little for the ranks of the
uninsured. I believe it is clear that the tax credit is far from a solution and will
absorb much needed resources with little, if any, benefit.
There are a number of current programs in our health care safety net that are
in need of additional funding. I think that short of a comprehensive fix to the prob-
lem, we should bolster those existing programs and not simply patch another hole
in what is clearly a broken system. The CHIP program, for instance, has been a
tremendous success in New York, and we would welcome the opportunity to expand
services if additional funding were available. However, estimates suggest that, due
to decreased funding, about 900,000 people will lose their CHIP eligibility between
2003 and 2006. CHIP is a proven success, however, it is unclear if the proposed tax
credit will provide any benefit to the uninsured whatsoever. Furthermore, states are
going to face severe budget constraints due to the economic downturn. As a result,
Medicaid and CHIP beneficiaries may experience a reduction of benefits or in-
creased out-of-pocket expenses, forcing many to the ranks of the uninsured.
Mr. Chairman, as we move forward to address the problem of the uninsured I
hope that we will consider other options than the Presidents tax credit. I look for-
ward to the testimony from our panelists and hope we work in a bi-partisan effort
to help all uninsured Americans.
Mr. BILIRAKIS. We have a vote, and so we will adjourn and re-
turn for those statements from the witnesses.
[Brief recess.]
Mr. BILIRAKIS. The hearing will come to order. The first panel
consists of Dr. Arthur L. Kellermann, Co-Chair of the Committee
on the Study of the Consequences of Unisurance, with the Institute
of Medicine; Ms. Mary R. Grealy, President of the Healthcare Lead-
ership Council; and Dr. Diane Rowland, Executive Vice President
of the Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation.
As you know, your written statements are a part of the record.
We would hope that you compliment them orally. I will turn the
clock on to 5 minutes, and I would appreciate it if you would try
to keep it as close to that as you can, and if you cant, we will cer-
tainly let you finish up.
Lets see. Dr. Kellermann, why dont we just start off with you,
sir.
STATEMENTS OF ARTHUR L. KELLERMANN, CO-CHAIR OF THE
COMMITTEE ON THE STUDY OF THE CONSEQUENCES OF
UNINSURANCE, INSTITUTE OF MEDICINE; MARY R. GREALY,
PRESIDENT, HEALTHCARE LEADERSHIP COUNCIL; AND
DIANE ROWLAND, EXECUTIVE VICE PRESIDENT, HENRY J.
KAISER FAMILY FOUNDATION
Mr. KELLERMANN. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. Before I start, I do
want to thank you and all your colleagues about your kind words
about John Eisenberg. John is an old friend of mind, and a fellow
Tennessean, a mentor who played a pivotal role in my career, and
he really has dedicated his life to the health of all Americans.
And personally it meant a great deal to me to hear you say what
you said.
Mr. BILIRAKIS. I hope that his ears are ringing this morning.
They should be, but we are all very sincere in our thoughts for the
doctor.
Mr. KELLERMANN. My name is Arthur Kellermann, and I am a
practicing emergency physician, and I chair the Department of
Emergency Medicine at the Emory University School of Medicine,

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and I currently serve as co-chair of the Committee on the Con-


sequences of Uninsurance for the Institute of Medicine.
Two years ago the IOM Council identified the issue of uninsured
Americans as a priority for a major analytic initiative. The Robert
Wood Johnson Foundation asked the IOM to conduct an extended
study of the consequences of uninsurance, not only for individuals
and their families, but for the Nation as a whole.
I am here today to discuss our committees initial findings. They
are presented in our introductory report, Coverage Matters, Insur-
ance and Health Care, which was released this past October.
Five additional reports will follow over the next 2 years. The
number of Americans without health insurance dipped slightly in
1999 and 2000, but the overall trend for the last 25 years has been
one of steady growth.
The trend has been upward in good times, as well as bad, and
it has persisted, despite incremental reforms. Now, much of the in-
formation that our committee synthesized in coverage matters is
known within health policy circles, but it is not well understood by
the American public.
Here is some of the misconceptions our report attempts to dispel.
Myth Number 1. People without health insurance get the medical
care they need. In reality, studies show that the uninsured are less
likely to see a doctor, receive fewer preventive services, and are
less likely to identify a regular source of medical care.
Myth Number 2. Most people without health insurance are
young, healthy adults. The reality is that while it is true that
young adults are more likely than persons of other ages to be unin-
sured, it is largely because they are ineligible for workplace health
insurance.
Many are too new in their job, or they work in businesses that
dont provide insurance to their employees. Only 4 percent of all
workers, age 18 to 44, about 3 million people, are uninsured be-
cause they decline available workplace health insurance. And most
who do, do it because they cant afford their share of the premium.
And Myth 3, most of the uninsured dont work, or live in families
where no one works. As members of the committee have already
observed, over 80 percent of uninsured children and adults under
the age of 65 live and work in families. Even members of families
with two full-time wage earners have almost a one in ten chance
of being uninsured.
Myth 4. Recent immigration has been a major source of the in-
crease in the uninsured population. The reality is that over a re-
cent 4 year period more than 80 percent of the growth in the size
of the uninsured population consisted of United States citizens.
Recent immigrants, those who have been in this country for 6
years or less, comprise only 6 percent of the uninsured population.
Now, folks who cant get insurance through their workplace, or lose
their coverage as a result of losing their job, have two options for
obtaining coverage.
They can purchase an individual policy or attempt to qualify for
public insurance, such as Medicaid. Individual policies have gotten
so expensive that they are out of reach for many people, particu-
larly those with low paying jobs.

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The full premium for an employment-based package for a family,


the same cost-based by an ex-employee who tries to avail them-
selves of COBRA coverage, averages now more than $7,000 a year.
Since the median income of an American family in 2000 was just
under $41,000 and the incomes of those without insurance are
much lower, it is no wonder that people cant afford to pay that
kind of premium.
If private insurance is unavailable or unaffordable, the only al-
ternative for most people is public insurance, such as Medicaid.
Unfortunately, strict eligibility requirements, and complex enroll-
ment procedures, make Medicaid difficult to obtain and even hard-
er to keep.
Coverage under Medicaid lasts on average about 5 months. At
the end of any given year, approximately two-thirds of people who
are insured by Medicaid at the start of the year are no longer cov-
ered.
In closing, I would like to emphasize four key points. First, the
rising cost of health care, and therefore the rising cost of health in-
surance, is outpacing the purchasing power of many employers, as
well as consumers.
Unless health care is made more affordable, this trend will con-
tinue until it becomes unsustainable. Two, while health insurance
is a voluntary matter in the United States, many people are invol-
untarily shut out of the system.
Eighty percent of the uninsured are members of working fami-
lies. These are the folks who wait on our tables, fix our cars, serv-
ice consultants to business and start small businesses of their own.
I know this because I take care of them in my emergency room.
They show up there in serious or even life-threatening condition,
with problems that could have been readily treated at an earlier
point in time if they had had access to care.
And even after my ER colleagues stabilized them, we often cant
get them follow-up medical care to manage that condition and keep
them out of the hospital. It just makes no sense.
Third, having health insurance is not a permanent state of af-
fairs. In any given year, millions of Americans move in or out of
the population of uninsured. As the events of the last 6 months
have demonstrated, none of us under 65 can assume that we will
always have health insurance, no matter what happens.
My own brother learned this 3 months ago when he lost his
health insurance. Finally, people without health insurance do go
without needed medical care, including doctors visits and medica-
tions, far more often than people with coverage.
The health consequences of the lack of insurance are the focus
of our second IOM report, which is due out this May. I commend
the committee for holding this hearing, and for attempting to come
to grips with this problem. I will look forward to answering your
questions.
[The prepared statement of Arthur L. Kellermann follows:]

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PREPARED STATEMENT OF ARTHUR L. KELLERMANN, CO-CHAIR OF THE CON-
SEQUENCES OF UNINSURANCE COMMITTEE, INSTITUTE OF MEDICINE/THE NATIONAL
ACADEMIES AND CHAIR, DEPARTMENT OF EMERGENCY MEDICINE, EMORY UNIVER-
SITY SCHOOL OF MEDICINE, DIRECTOR, CENTER FOR INJURY CONTROL, ROLLINS
SCHOOL OF PUBLIC HEALTH, EMORY UNIVERSITY
Good morning, Mr. Chairman and members of the Subcommittee. My name is Ar-
thur Kellermann. I am Chair of the Department of Emergency Medicine, Emory
University School of Medicine and Director of the Center for Injury Control, Rollins
School of Public Health, Emory University. I serve as Co-Chair of the Committee
on the Consequences of Uninsurance of the Institute of Medicine. The IOM is part
of the National Academies, originally chartered as the National Academy of Sciences
by Congress in 1863 to advise the government on matters of science and technology.
Two years ago the IOM Council identified the issue of the large and growing pop-
ulation of uninsured Americans as a priority for a major analytic initiative. The
Robert Wood Johnson Foundation shared this interest and asked the IOM to con-
duct an extended study of significant consequences of uninsurance. The study will
also identify strategies to address these consequences. I am here today to discuss
our Committees initial findings. They are presented in our introductory report, Cov-
erage Matters: Insurance and Health Care, which was released this past October.
Our Committee will issue five more reports between May of this year and Sep-
tember 2003. They will explore the impact of a lack of health insurance, not only
for individuals and their families, but for our local communities and American soci-
ety in general.
The tragic events of last fall have refocused Americans attention on our shared
personal concerns, our collective fate, and our well-being as a nation. Health insur-
ance, the principal mechanism by which we finance health care in the United
States, is critical to ensuring the financial security of American families as well as
their access to needed health care. Once again our nation faces a growing population
of uninsured Americans after a brief stabilization in the number of uninsured.
These circumstances deserve our thoughtful consideration evenperhaps espe-
ciallyin these exceptional times.
The past 25 years have seen a growing number of uninsured. This trend has held
despite incremental reforms in the regulation of private health insurance such as
COBRA and HIPAA that have increased opportunities for maintaining coverage (if
one already has it). This trend has held despite substantial expansions in Medicaid
eligibility, beginning in the late 1980s and continuing through the enactment of the
Childrens Health Insurance Program in 1997. Although the number of Americans
without health insurance dipped slightly in 1999 and again in 2000, after several
years of an exceptionally vigorous economy in the mid-to-late 1990s, by the fall of
last year (after Coverage Matters went to press) it was clear that the economy was
softening. This economic downturn, coupled with rising health care costs and insur-
ance premiums and stagnant or declining state tax revenues, has already estab-
lished that the longer-term trend of growth in the numbers of uninsured Americans
will continue.
What does this 25-year trend mean? The Committees report, Coverage Matters,
documents
the persistence of the problem of uninsurance, regardless of whether the economy
is weak or strong,
the inherent instability of insurance coverage for all but the elderly in the United
States, stemming both from the structure of our employment-based health sys-
tem and from the conditions of eligibility for coverage under programs like Med-
icaid and SCHIP, and
the reduced access to health care of Americans who lack health insurance.
Each of these findings has important implications for the Congress, for state legis-
latures, and for others as they design public policies to address the issue of afford-
able health care for the uninsured.
While much of the information that the Committee has synthesized in Coverage
Matters is known within health policy circles, it is not widely understood by the
American public. In fact, much of what Americans think they know about the unin-
sured is wrong. Misunderstandings about the causes and consequences of
uninsurance have impeded the formulation of effective public policies to solve the
problem. Our Committee recognizes that one of its principal tasks must be to broad-
en and deepen the American publics understanding of issues related to health in-
surance and the lack or loss of it.
Coverage Matters addresses some of the most persistent myths about the unin-
sured and the implications of lacking coverage. We have tried to answer the Who,
what, where, and why of this issue in order to replace misinformation with good

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31
information. Consider the following examples, drawn from public opinion polls and
focus group research:
Myth: People without health insurance get the medical care they need.
Reality: In any given year, the uninsured are much more likely to lack needed
medical care. They are less likely to see a doctor, receive fewer preventive services
such as blood pressure checks, mammograms and screening for colorectal cancer,
and are less likely to have a regular source of medical care. As will be further docu-
mented in our next report, routine health care, particularly for those with chronic
conditions such as diabetes and high blood pressure, can result in improved quality
of life, prevent long-term disability and lead to longer life. Health insurance is a
critical link in obtaining such care.
Myth: Most people without health insurance are young, healthy adults who de-
cline coverage offered in the workplace because they feel they dont need it.
Reality: Young adults are more likely than persons of other ages to be uninsured
largely because they are ineligible for workplace health insurancemany are too
new in their jobs, or they work for a business that does not provide health insurance
coverage to its employees. Only 4 percent of all workers ages 18-44, or about 3 mil-
lion people, are uninsured because they declined available workplace health insur-
ance. Many of these do so because they cant afford their share of the premium.
Nearly four times as many workers in the same age group, approximately 11 million
people, are uninsured because their employer does not offer health insurance, and
they cannot afford to purchase insurance elsewhere. Purchasing coverage outside of
work is not an option for many, because individually purchased insurance policies
are frequently expensive, often exclude preexisting conditions, or are simply un-
available.
Myth: Most of the uninsured dont work, or live in families where no one works.
Reality: More than eighty percent of uninsured children and adults under the
age of 65 live in working families. While working improves the chances that both
the worker and his or her family will be insured, it is not a guarantee. Even mem-
bers of families with two full-time wage earners have almost a one-in-ten chance
of being uninsured.
Myth: Recent immigration has been a major source of the increase in the unin-
sured population.
Reality: Between 1994 and 1998, over 80 percent of the growth in the size of the
uninsured population consisted of U.S. citizens. Recent immigrants (those who have
resided in the U.S. for fewer than 6 years) are about three times as likely as mem-
bers of the general population to be uninsured, but they comprise only about 6 per-
cent of the uninsured population.
In the remainder of my testimony, I would like to fill in the picture of Americans
most vulnerable to being uninsured and expand on the factors that contribute to
this.
In the United States, health insurance is a voluntary matter, yet many people do
not choose to be uninsured. There is no guarantee for most people under the age
of 65 years that they are eligible for or able to afford health insurance.
Almost seven out of every ten Americans under age 65 are covered by employ-
ment-based health insurance, either through their job or through the job of a parent
or their spouse. Three-fourths of U.S. workers are offered health insurance by their
employers, and 83 percent of those who are offered health insurance accept the offer
of coverage. About 18 million Americans live in families whose head works for a
companyoften a small onethat does not offer health insurance.
People who cannot get insurance through the workplace and who are under age
65, too young to qualify for Medicare, have two potential options to secure cov-
eragepurchase an individual policy or attempt to qualify for public insurance, pri-
marily Medicaid. These two options account for 21 percent of all coverage among
persons under age 65.
Individual coverage is expensive and may be priced out of reach for many people,
particularly those who are in poor health. The full premium for employment-based
coverage for a familywhich is the cost faced by former employees who might avail
themselves of COBRA coveragenow averages more than $7,000 per year. Indi-
vidual policies are either more expensive than these group plans, less extensive in
their benefits, or both. As noted in our report, the median family income in 2000
was just under $41,000, and the incomes of most of those without health insurance
was much lower than thattwo-thirds of uninsured Americans live in families with
incomes below 200 percent of the federal poverty level, about $34,000 for a family
of four in 2000.
For individuals and families, the expense of insurance premiums and competing
demands on their income are the main reasons why some workers decline employ-
ment-based insurance. Workers who accept an employers offer of subsidized health

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32
insurance typically pay between one-quarter and one-third of the total cost of the
premium for family coverage. In addition, they may pay substantial deductibles, co-
payments, and even pay out of pocket for the costs of health services that are not
covered by their health plan. Among lower-income families, those earning less than
200 percent of the federal policy level, health-related expenses may easily consume
10 percent or more of their annual income.
It isnt easy to foot the bill for health insurance, given its high cost. Employers
willingness to subsidize coverage is strongly influenced by the scarcity or avail-
ability of workers, insurance underwriting practices, the cost of health care, and the
patchwork of public policies that encourage (or discourage) firms to offer insurance
as a benefit.
The kind of job a person holds, and where they live, are strongly related to their
chances of having health insurance. Full-time, full-year employment offers families
the best chances of having health insurance, as does an annual income above 200
percent of the federal poverty level. The employment mix and strength of the econ-
omy, along with eligibility and benefits for public programs like Medicaid and
SCHIP, vary across states and geographic regions, with the result that opportunities
for obtaining any kind of health insurance coverage and the risk of being uninsured
also vary regionally. Roughly a quarter of the populations of Florida, Texas, Ari-
zona, New Mexico and California are uninsured, while less than 12 percent of the
populations of Rhode Island, Pennsylvania, Minnesota, Iowa, Nebraska and Hawaii
lack coverage. These disparities in rates of insurance coverage reflect very different
challenges facing individual states, employers, and the federal government in ad-
dressing the persistent problem of uninsurance across the nation.
Many find the opportunities for public coverage too limited. The combination of
strict eligibility requirements and enrollment procedures makes public coverage dif-
ficult to obtain and even harder to keep. The median length of time that someone
under the age of 65 keeps Medicaid coverage is about 5 months. At the end of any
given year, about two-thirds of the people who were insured by Medicaid at the
start of the year have lost their coverage for any number of reasons.
There are as many ways to lose health insurance as there are to gain it. These
include an increase in insurance premiums or a change in terms, loss of a job or
a drop in personal income, new terms of employment, a change in health or in mar-
ital status, reaching adulthood, or a change in public policy. For some, being unin-
sured is a long-term or recurrent state of affairs. The median amount of time with-
out insurance is between 5 and 6 months. However, uninsured persons living in low-
income families and those with less education on average experience longer periods
without insurance.
Non-Hispanic whites make up about half of all uninsured persons. African Ameri-
cans, however, are twice as likely as non-Hispanic whites to be uninsured, and His-
panics are three times as likely as non-Hispanic whites to be uninsured. Foreign-
born U.S. residents are three times as likely to be uninsured as people born in this
country. Among the foreign born, non-citizens are more than twice as likely to lack
coverage as naturalized citizens.
The greater likelihood of being uninsured among racial and ethnic minorities and
recent immigrants reflects, on average, their lower rates of employment-based cov-
erage, which primarily reflects fewer offers of employment-based coverage, rather
than lower take-up rates. Minority groups and recent immigrants also have, on av-
erage, lower family incomes than non-Hispanic whites and U.S.-born residents,
which is associated both with employment that does not carry an offer of health in-
surance and a lesser ability to afford an employers offer of coverage.
In closing, I want to emphasize several points:
Since the mid 1970s, the rising cost of health care, and therefore the cost of
health insurance, has outpaced the purchasing power of many employers and
consumers. Some of the most recent economic data released since Coverage Mat-
ters was completed shows a resumption of double-digit inflation in health care
costs, contributing to a growing gap in affordability. This gap between costs and
purchasing power, probably more than any other factor, has fueled the steady
growth in the ranks of the uninsured. Unless health insurance becomes more
affordable, this trend is expected to continue.
While health insurance is a voluntary matter in the United States, many people
are involuntarily excluded from the system. Among those excluded, the poor and
members of certain minority groups are disproportionately represented. How-
ever, the uninsured include members of all racial and ethnic groups, persons
who live in rural as well as urban settings, and wage earners from a wide vari-
ety of occupations. More than 80 percent of the uninsured are members of work-
ing families. They wait on tables, fix cars, serve as consultants to businesses,

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33
and start businesses of their own. They contribute in countless ways to the U.S.
economy and our societys well-being.
Having health insurance is not a permanent state of affairs. Many life transitions
can result in the gain or loss of health insurance. In any given year, millions
of Americans move into (or out of) the ranks of the uninsured. As the job layoffs
over the past 6 months have vividly demonstrated, few of us under the age of
65 can assume that we will always have health insurance, no matter what hap-
pens.
Finally, people without health insurance go without needed care, including doc-
tors visits and medications, far more often than do people with coverage.
Thank you for inviting me to present the work of the IOM and the Committee
on the Consequences of Uninsurance. I would be happy to answer any questions
that you may have about the Committee or our report.
Mr. BILIRAKIS. Ms. Grealy.

STATEMENT OF MARY R. GREALY


Ms. GREALY. Mr. Chairman, Congressman Brown, and members
of the subcommittee, I want to thank you for the opportunity to
testify today, and I also want to applaud you for the attention that
you are devoting to the most important health care issue facing our
Nation.
I testify today on behalf of the members of the Health Care Lead-
ership Council, chief executives of the Nations leading health care
companies and institutions, representing all sectors of health care;
from hospitals, to physician groups, health plans, pharmaceutical
manufacturers, medical device manufacturers, just to name a few
of our rather eclectic membership.
Last summer the members of the Health Care Leadership Coun-
cil initiated a nationwide campaign called Health Access America.
And they are devoting their energy and resources to the challenge
presented by the nearly 40 million uninsured Americans.
As part of our Health Access America Campaign, we are con-
ducting research to better understand the varying needs and cir-
cumstances of the people who make up the uninsured population.
We are using the internet and our HLC website to link people
with health coverage and safety net programs in their States. We
are seeking out innovative local and regional programs across the
country that are successfully making health care coverage more ac-
cessible for working families and for small business owners.
Programs like the Wayne County, Michigan Healthy Choice Ini-
tiative in Congressman Dingells district, and we are also talking
to the people who are uninsured. People from all over the country,
like Lisa Crowley, a single mother, and self-employed construction
worker, from Fort Wayne, Indiana.
Ms. Crowley reached out to us because she works hard, long
hours, but she cant obtain insurance to pay for the medication that
she needs for her dangerous hypertension condition.
Lisa Crowley and millions of others like her are the focus of the
uninsured. They are the faces that we see when we now know who
are the uninsured. Are research as you have heard time and again
now, and it has really become part of the lexicon of describing the
uninsured, that 8 out of 10 of the uninsured are in working fami-
lies.
Americas working class uninsured are to a large degree people
who work for small businesses, and these small businesses want to

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offer coverage, but they cant make it happen with their tight oper-
ating margins.
They are people also who receive an offer of insurance from their
employer, but they are not taking that offer because they cant af-
ford the premium. Sometimes they can for themselves, but they
cant afford the family coverage for their families.
The HLC believes that successfully addressing this challenge will
require a mix of public and private solutions. It is not a question
of public versus private. That is a false choice.
There is not a single solution that will solve this problem. We
must be flexible and address the challenges of the uninsured in a
variety of ways with all the tools available. I have addressed some
of these possible solutions in detailing my written testimony, but
let me touch briefly on just a few.
If our goal is to significantly reduce the uninsured as quickly and
as efficiently as possible, then we need to focus on the workplace,
where the vast majority of the uninsured can be found.
It makes enormous sense to utilize a prefunded advanceable, re-
fundable tax subsidy that could be advanced to the individual and
used immediately for their monthly premiums.
The combination of a refundable tax subsidy, the lower cost of
group health insurance, and the natural outreach opportunities
that exist in the employment setting create a very promising envi-
ronment for expanding coverage to many more Americans.
We have found in programs like Healthy Choice in Wayne Coun-
ty, Michigan, the Focus Program in San Diego, and FAMIS in the
State of Virginia, that a relatively small helping hand can bridge
that premium gap between what an employer is able to subsidize,
and what an employee is able to pay.
We also need to examine the most effective role for our public
programs like Medicaid and the State Childrens Health Insurance
Program. These programs are extremely valuable in providing
health care to citizens with very low incomes. When we discuss
these programs though, we have to do it in the context of current
State budget situations and restraints.
According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, 28
States will consider cutting their Medicaid benefit packages this
year. Most States have balanced budget requirements, and given
that fact that Medicaid and S-CHIP represent the largest line
items in most of these State budgets, Governors will have little
choice but to take that direction when looking for savings.
Given this environment, a logical approach would be to use those
Medicaid and those S-CHIP dollars to supplement employer health
benefit contributions. The administration has launched a dem-
onstration initiative, HIPAA, and that encourages this direction.
It makes good sense in terms of stretching those limited health
care dollars. Mr. Chairman, the high number of uninsured Ameri-
cans is a problem that has perplexed our Nation for far too long.
I believe though that we are seeing an unprecedented determina-
tion to find and achieve solutions. Members of this committee have
introduced and co-sponsored legislation that would make health in-
surance more accessible.
And the President has included in his budget more than $90 bil-
lion that would among other things provide a refundable,

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advanceable health tax credit to help families purchase health in-


surance.
The Health Care Leadership Council appreciates and applauds
all of your ongoing efforts to help the Lisa Crowleys of the country
to solve this most pressing and serious health care issue.
We look forward to working with Congress, and working with the
White House on a variety of approaches that will be required to get
more Americans health insurance coverage. Thank you.
[The prepared statement of Mary R. Grealy follows:]
PREPARED STATEMENT OF MARY R. GREALY, PRESIDENT, HEALTHCARE LEADERSHIP
COUNCIL
Mr. Chairman, Congressman Brown, and members of the subcommittee. I am
Mary Grealy, President of the Healthcare Leadership Council. On behalf of the
members of the HLC, I would like to thank you for focusing todays hearing on the
very important issue of uninsured Americans. I welcome and appreciate this oppor-
tunity to discuss the views of HLC members.
The Healthcare Leadership Council (HLC) is a coalition of chief executives of the
nations leading health care companies and organizations, representing all sectors
of health care. Our members are committed to advancing a market-based health
care system that values innovation and provides affordable, high-quality care.
The HLC believes there is no greater health care priority in this nation than the
approximate 40 million individuals who are without health care coverage. The
health consequences experienced by those without health insurance are well docu-
mented. People without coverage tend to get sick more often because they do not
receive the preventive and diagnostic care that so many of us take for granted. They
miss more time on the job. They are absent from school more frequently, and statis-
tics tell us they will die too early.
In addition, our nation as a whole is affected when such a large segment of our
population is uninsured. Our productivity suffers, and our health providers absorb
a tremendous economic strain caused by uncompensated care. Hospitals alone are
absorbing over $19 billion per year in care provided to those who do not have ade-
quate coverage.
Concern regarding this issue is increasing, and the greater attention being given
to the uninsured is both welcomed and necessary. The President and the Congress,
including this subcommittee, should be highly commended for their recent efforts to
initiate action on behalf of uninsured Americans. As well, a number of private orga-
nizations have begun devoting tremendous energy to this issue and should also be
commended.
I would like to particularly applaud the members of this committee who have in-
troduced and co-sponsored legislation that would make health insurance coverage
more accessible to greater numbers of Americans.
In passing the economic stimulus bill this month, the House of Representatives
highlighted the need to find ways to ensure that laid off workers do not join the
ranks of the uninsured. We support provisions in that bill which would give those
losing coverage a number of options for extending their health care benefits or ob-
taining new benefits. In particular, we support efforts to help hard-to-insure individ-
uals by providing funding for state high risk pools.
The members of the HLC also support the Presidents inclusion of more than $90
billion in his recent budget to begin mapping the way to coverage for a significant
number of the uninsured. The majority of this funding would provide a refundable
health tax credit that could be advanced to families to help them purchase insur-
ance plans in the non-group insurance market. The HLC believes this is an impor-
tant step toward providing easier access to health care coverage for the millions of
working Americans who are without it.
It is our goal to work with the Administration and Congress to encourage the de-
velopment and expansion of this proposal. This initiative, as well as the Administra-
tions proposals to increase funding for community health centers, to assist hard-to-
insure families and individuals in purchasing coverage from state risk pools, and
to maximize use of existing State Childrens Health Insurance Program (S-CHIP)
funds, exemplifies the Administrations resolve to strip away the diverse array of
barriers that keep people uninsured.
It is critical to point out that there is no single answer, no one policy solution that
will address the needs of more than 40 million uninsured Americans. Taking on this
issue requires flexibility and a mix of targeted public and private solutions.

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The HLC supports a three-pronged approach to reduce the number of uninsured
Americans: (1) refundable tax incentives to encourage the purchase of insurance, in-
cluding employer-offered coverage; (2) improvements to the current Medicaid pro-
gram and S-CHIP, including improved outreach to enroll those currently eligible
and the flexibility to use program dollars to expand private coverage; and (3) in-
creased efforts to facilitate awareness of the importance and availability of health
insurance, especially among the nations small businesses.
The members of HLC are committed to this effortto raising awareness of the
national problem of the uninsured and advancing solutions to put health coverage
within the reach of uninsured Americans. Last year, we formed the national Health
Access America campaign because we believe that all Americans should have access
to todays modern medical miracles and life-enhancing technologies and treatments.
Under this campaign, HLC members have pledged their leadership, energies and
resources to help solve the nations uninsured crisis. We are spotlighting local and
regional programs throughout the country that are developing successful, innovative
approaches to help provide coverage. We are using our Web page to provide unin-
sured Americans with one-click access to information about coverage and safety net
programs in their states. We are conducting research studies on the most effective
ways to address this crisis. And, we are talking to people who dont have health cov-
erage, listening to their stories and telling them to a wider audience to underscore
the cost that will continue to be paid if we dont solve this problem.
Our work in highlighting model programs throughout the country that promote
health coverage and access has been particularly valuable. We spotlight these pro-
grams with the HLC Honor Roll for Coverage award. In 2000, we presented
awards to the Wayne County, Michigan HealthChoice program as well as the
FOCUS program in San Diego. Both of these programs provide subsidies to help
small businesses and their employees afford health insurance. In 2001, we recog-
nized Virginias exemplary waiver program that allows S-CHIP funds to be used to
help expand employer health coverage, and South Carolinas Commun-I-Care pro-
gram, which provides care, health care services and products to individuals who are
not eligible for public assistance or employer-based insurance.
This year, HLC will present its Honor Roll Award to a new program in Sac-
ramento County, California, called SACAdvantage. Modeled after the San Diego
FOCUS program, SACAdvantage will work with small employers to increase access
to coverage for their employees.
We believe these and similar state and local programs, small business and asso-
ciation purchasing pools, and other creative ways to encourage health care coverage
merit national attention. There are a number of different causes that lead to mil-
lions of people being without health insurance, and each of these local programs has
analyzed the unique needs and potential solutions for their uninsured populations.
These initiatives are not only providing coverage for a growing number of individ-
uals, families and small businesses, but they are providing us with a critical road
map leading toward workable solutions that may encourage small employers and in-
dividuals to participate in coverage programs. For example, Wayne Countys
HealthChoice program, found that it was difficult to entice businesses to participate
as long as subsidies to those businesses were less than one-third of their insurance
premium costs. The premium formula that eventually made the program a success
was one-third paid by the employer, one-third paid by the employee, and one-third
subsidized by the county government.
In addition, these small employers received the benefit of the pooling arrangement
created by the county, which offered a negotiated price as well as a subsidy. This
mirrors some of the advantages enjoyed by large employers and other types of pur-
chasing pool arrangements.
Finally, in an effort to increase awareness about the importance of health care
coverage, HLC has worked with Congresswoman Wilson on the introduction of
H.Con.R. 271, The Importance of Health Care Coverage Month, and securing bipar-
tisan cosponsors for that resolution. Concurrently, our grassroots organization is co-
ordinating events around the country with cosponsors of the resolution to help edu-
cate individuals and small business of the importance and availability of health care
coverage.
I would now like to share with the Committee information from several research
projects that we have undertaken at HLC. These studies are helping us to better
understand the characteristics of the uninsured and potential solutions to the sig-
nificant challenges before us.
Characteristics of the Uninsured
Four out of every five uninsured persons are in families with at least one em-
ployed family member. This is the dominant picture of the uninsuredhard-working

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37
people who are not offered or cannot afford health insurance. Of the 33 million unin-
sured in working families, 13 million are in families where an offer of insurance
from an employer is turned down, usually because the family cannot afford it. Twen-
ty million of the uninsured in working households are not offered employer insur-
ance.
It is not surprising that affordability is the most significant of the various barriers
to having health coverage. A recent analysis commissioned by HLC shows that 16
percent of those in families with incomes under the federal poverty level with an
offer of insurance are uninsured, compared to six percent of those in families with
incomes over three times the poverty level.
Cost is a barrier to insurance enrollment for low-income workers and their de-
pendents, in part because their share of premiums consumes a higher percentage
of their income than is the case for workers with higher incomes. Also, workers in
middle and upper-income brackets tend to work for employers who subsidize a larg-
er portion of their health insurance premiums, whereas low-wage firms offer a
smaller subsidy to their employees.
These characteristics suggest that pre-funded, refundable tax incentives to lower
income workers could serve to bridge the premium gap that exists between what
an employer and employee are each able to contribute toward a health insurance
policy. Such tax incentives could encourage many employers not now offering cov-
erage to do so, and also will aid those workers who are not offered health insurance
by their employers.
Limitations of S-CHIP and Medicaid
S-CHIP and Medicaid have proven extremely valuable for providing health care
to very low income populations, and must play a role in the package of solutions
that will reduce Americas uninsured population.
However, evidence suggests that we are reaching the limits of effectiveness in re-
ducing the number of uninsured through these programs, as they currently function.
Only about half of the individuals currently eligible for Medicaid and S-CHIP actu-
ally participate in the programs, suggesting that eligibility alonewithout consider-
able investment to remove existing barriers to participationdoes not and will not
efficiently increase the number of people receiving coverage.
A number of reasons have been cited for low participation in these programs, in-
cluding the fact that participation rates in means-tested public insurance programs
decline as incomes rise. A large number of those electing not to participate are fami-
lies with higher income levels who were offered public insurance upon the inception
of S-CHIP.
This pattern of lower participation among higher income persons is also evident
in other government health care subsidy programs, including the Qualified Medicare
Beneficiaries (QMBs) and Specified Low-Income Medicare Beneficiaries (SLMBs)
programs. Forty-five percent of QMBs who have incomes at or below 100 percent
of poverty do not participate in the QMB program. Among SLMBs, who have slight-
ly higher incomes than QMBs at 100 to 120 percent of poverty, 84 percent of those
eligible fail to participate. Obviously, substantial outreach is necessary to overcome
barriers to participation, such as the stigma many associate with public programs.
Any discussion of expanding S-CHIP or Medicaid eligibility must also take into
consideration the deteriorating fiscal health of many of our states. Medicaid and S-
CHIP account for the largest line item in most state budgets. And, unlike the fed-
eral government, virtually all of the states do not have the option of deficit spend-
ing, meaning that budget cuts will have to occur. The National Conference of State
Legislatures annual Health Priorities Survey for 2002 found that 28 states will con-
sider cutting Medicaid benefit packages this year. At the recent Governors meeting
in Washington, several state chief executives made it clear that Medicaid spending
is one of the greatest problems they face.
This challenging environment requires innovative approaches. For example, using
S-CHIP funds to supplement employer premium contributions, as the Administra-
tions new Health Insurance Flexibility and Accountability (HIFA) Demonstration
Initiative waiver encourages, is a logical way to stretch scarce health care dollars.
Virginias FAMIS program, which I mentioned previously, is one of the first pro-
grams in the nation to combine its S-CHIP funding with employer-offered coverage.
This program is now enrolling thousands of uninsured children into their parents
health plans in the work place.
This idea should be examined closely by other states as well as the Federal gov-
ernment. Many eligible individuals in the higher income categories of Medicaid and
S-CHIP, as well as income categories under consideration for Medicaid and S-CHIP
expansions, are connected to the workforce through at least one family member.
Therefore, solutions involving ways to supplement employer insurance may be high-

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38
ly effective in increasing coverage rates for these populations, providing coverage
without the stigma of government dependence. There are steps that must be taken,
though, to make this approach work better. There are administrative complexities
within the Medicaid and S-CHIP programs that discourage states from opting to co-
ordinate with employer health plans. HHS currently does not have the authority to
eliminate all of these barriers. Congress must address them legislatively. The HLC
would appreciate the opportunity to work with this committee to help identify and
overcome these obstacles.
Targeted, Refundable Tax Incentives
HLC members are committed to forging a health care system characterized by in-
novation and constantly improving quality. Choice, which drives competition, is es-
sential to such a system. Health coverage tax credits have the potential for pro-
viding consumers with a great amount of flexibility for choosing health coverage op-
tions that best suit their needs. They also can act as a stimulus to create new and
wider coverage choices in the marketplace.
The HLC believes tax credits should be refundable for persons with little or no
tax liability, and they should be paid in advance so that individuals with limited
or no savings can take advantage of them to pay monthly premiums before the end
of the tax year. Risk adjusting tax credits for those with chronic diseases and other
health conditions, as well as facilitating the development of state high risk pools to-
ward which credits can be applied, can also help to ensure that the majority of the
uninsured are served by this approach.
While we are pleased to see proposals moving forward to use tax credits to ad-
dress the needs of individuals who do not have an offer of employer insurance, it
is our hope that these proposals will be expanded to include others in the workplace
who face health coverage challenges. The HLCs strong advocacy for tax incentives
to subsidize the purchase of employer-offered insurance stems from the compelling
fact that over 80 percent of the uninsured are connected to the workforce. The com-
bination of a refundable tax subsidy, the lower cost of group health insurance and
the natural outreach opportunities within an employment setting creates the most
promising environment for increasing coverage for families and individuals.
Assessing Cost and Value of Tax Incentives
Our tax code provides tremendous benefits to those who receive their health in-
surance through their place of employment. Health insurance premiums paid by the
employer are not counted as taxable income to the employee. However, this tax ex-
clusion has less value for low-income workers than for their better-paid counter-
parts.
For families with income levels between 200 to 300 percent of the federal poverty
level ($35,000 to $53,000 for a family of four), the tax exclusion for employer-paid
health insurance is worth only about $661. For families between 300 and 400 per-
cent of poverty, the exclusion has a value of about $801. Thus, a refundable tax
credit of $2,000 to $3,000 per family, the most commonly discussed level, would be
particularly valuable for low-income workers, including those who are offered insur-
ance by their employers.
The cost of tax incentive proposals, as with any proposals to reduce the number
of uninsured, presents a financial challenge to policy makers. The cost of legislation,
of course, must be determined before legislation is acted upon, and the price tags
have been notably high. This is particularly true for proposals that allow tax incen-
tives to be used for workers who already have an offer of insurance from an em-
ployer. This is, in part, due to the fact that the Joint Tax Committee, on whom Con-
gress must rely for determining the cost of tax legislation before it is passed, incor-
porates assumptions that many workers already receiving employer-based insurance
will be bought out with federal dollars and current employer subsidies will cease.
A look at the real world of employer benefits leads to a different conclusion. The
extent to which employers will reduce their contributions toward health insurance
for employees when a subsidy such as a tax credit is offered can be discerned by
looking at economic studies examining actual experiences with other types of wage
subsidies. In two such studies examined by HLC (Katz, 1996 and Witte et. al, 1998),
general wage subsidies and child care subsidies from the government did not reduce
overall employee benefit spending by employers.
Additionally, we can project expected employer behavior if tax credits are focused
exclusively toward lower-income employees. It is highly unlikely that an employer
would discriminate by reducing premium contributions for low-income workers re-
ceiving a tax subsidy, while maintaining current contributions for higher-income
workers not eligible for the subsidy.

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We would recommend that policymakers utilize these real world examples and
fair assumptions regarding marketplace behavior in determining the likely impact
of new tax incentive policies.
Phasing in a Tax Credit Approach
All Americans deserve access to affordable health coverage. However, current
budget constraints may require us to move in incremental steps toward that goal.
For example, targeting tax credits toward populations less likely to already have
coverage, such as low-income families or workers in small businesses, can help to
reduce the cost of such an approach while still reaching many currently-uninsured
persons. The HLC is modeling a number of targeted tax incentive policies and we
would be happy to share our findings with the committee.
Another segment of the population that should receive high priority in targeting
tax incentives includes dependents of lower-income workers not eligible for S-CHIP
or Medicaid. Small and medium sized businesses offering health insurance to their
employees contribute, on average, 48 percent of the premium amount for employees,
but only 24 percent for their dependents. Not surprisingly, in many cases, workers
acquire insurance for themselves, but cannot afford it for their family members. In
designing targeted tax incentive policies for the uninsured, we should strive to as-
sist all members of working families.
Conclusion
Mr. Chairman, the Healthcare Leadership Council appreciates your efforts on the
uninsured over this past year, and applauds you and your colleagues for your ongo-
ing work to find ways to solve this nations most pressing health care issue. The
uninsured must be our national health care priority for 2002. This multi-faceted
problem will require a variety of public and private approaches and we look forward
to working with you and the Administration to develop constructive solutions.
Mr. BILIRAKIS. Thank you, Ms. Grealy.
Dr. Rowland.
STATEMENT OF DIANE ROWLAND
Ms. ROWLAND. Thank you, Mr. Chairman, Mr. Brown, and mem-
bers of the subcommittee for this opportunity to testify today on
how to extend coverage to our Nations uninsured. At last count in
2000, 38.4 million Americans were uninsured; 9.2 million children,
and 29.2 million adults.
The profile of the uninsured as you have heard today is a con-
sistent one. They are predominantly low income working families.
Two-thirds have income below 200 percent of poverty, and income
of less than $30,000 for a family of three.
And, yes, 8 in 10 are from families with one or more workers.
Most are uninsured in fact because they do not obtain coverage in
the workplace. Only 60 percent of workers earning less than $7 per
hour have coverage through their own or a spouses job, compared
to 96 percent of workers earning at least $15 an your.
Low wage workers are 10 times as likely to not be offered cov-
erage in the workplace as higher wage workers. In fact, low wage
employment equals lack of health benefits. When coverage is of-
fered in the workplace the cost is often beyond the reach of low in-
come workers.
In 2001, the average employer premium for family coverage was
$7,000 and the employees share of that premium was 26 percent,
or $1,800 a year. For a low wage worker earning $15,000 a year,
the premium share equals 12 percent of that individuals family in-
come.
Most would consider that an unaffordable price, even to obtain
health coverage. The non-group market offers no bargains for low
wage workers. Cheap policies with high deductibles afford little
protection.

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Better policies are too costly, but still often exclude health condi-
tions, limit benefits, require substantial co-payments, and adjusted
high premiums for those with health problems.
Public programs, most notably Medicaid and CHIP, do help fill
in the gaps, especially for children. Today, 21 million children, 1 in
5 American children, rely on Medicaid for coverage, and another 4
million have been assisted by CHIP.
Medicaid and CHIP provide coverage for primary care, preven-
tive services, immunizations, and pre-natal care, without financial
barriers. They are not just catastrophic health insurance plans.
But public coverage has been broadened primarily for children,
and leaves millions of low income adults behind, and 34 percent of
low income women and 41 percent of low income men are unin-
sured.
Medicaids reach for these adults is extremely limited. Income
levels for eligibility of parents in most States remains substantially
below that of the levels that Congress has mandated for children;
well below poverty in 33 States.
Low income childless adults, who constitute one-half of the low
income uninsured population, are excluded from Medicaid coverage
unless disabled, no matter how poor. Clearly, broadening coverage
to parents and extending Medicaid to childless adults at low in-
comes would be important steps in addressing the low income unin-
sured.
Without public expansions, the poorest among the uninsured,
and the most chronically uninsured, are likely to remain without
coverage. But strategies to address the uninsured must recognize
the need economic realities.
As we sit here today, the situation has grown bleaker since the
2000 snapshot. The recent economic downturn and the return of
double-digit inflation and health care costs now places health in-
surance coverage for working families in jeopardy, both from loss
of employer sponsored coverage, and limits on the availability and
scope of Medicaid due to State physical constraints.
We face the prospect of seeing coverage erode, not expand, for
millions of Americans. The combination of rising health care costs
and State fiscal constraints, puts the low income population relying
on Medicaid and CHIP at particular risk.
We must be careful to not strip benefits and impose additional
cost sharing burdens on Americas poorest population in order to
provide minimal expansions to other groups. This will worsen, not
improve, health insurance coverage, and undermine much of the
progress that has been made in recent years.
Maintaining the gains in public coverage over the last decade, es-
pecially for children, may in fact require additional Federal financ-
ing assistance to the States in return for a commitment to main-
tain coverage for the existing low income population.
Health insurance matters for the millions of Americans who lack
coverage. It influences when and whether they get necessary med-
ical care, the financial burdens that they face in obtaining care,
and ultimately their health and health outcomes.
Extending coverage to the millions of Americans without health
insurance and securing coverage for those who have it today, is
both an important policy and health objective for this Nation.

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I look forward to working with the committee to help achieve


these objectives for our Nation. Thank you very much.
[The prepared statement of Diane Rowland follows:]
PREPARED STATEMENT OF DIANE ROWLAND, EXECUTIVE VICE PRESIDENT, THE HENRY
J. KAISER FAMILY FOUNDATION
Thank you for the opportunity to offer testimony this morning on the critical issue
of how to extend health coverage to our nations over 38 million uninsured. I am
Diane Rowland, Executive Vice President of the Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation
and Executive Director of the Kaiser Commission on Medicaid and the Uninsured.
The national bi-partisan commission serves as a policy institute and forum for ana-
lyzing health care coverage and access for low-income populations and assessing op-
tions for reform.
Combined with notable expansion in coverage, especially through public coverage
of low-income children, the strong economy and sustained economic growth over the
last decade helped to bring about the first decline in the number of uninsured in
over a decade. However, the downturn in our economy, coupled with increased pres-
sure on state budgets and rising health care costs, now place that progress in jeop-
ardy. My testimony today will focus on the characteristics of the uninsured popu-
lation, the factors that contribute to their lack of insurance, and the challenge of
broadening coverage in the current fiscal environment.
The Uninsured Population
Today, two out of three nonelderly Americans receive their health insurance cov-
erage through an employer-sponsored health plan offered through the workplace.
However, for millions of working families such coverage is either not offered or is
financially out of reach. Medicaid and the State Childrens Health Insurance Pro-
gram (CHIP) help fill in the gaps for some of the lowest income people, but this pub-
licly sponsored coverage is directed primarily at children and varies in availability
across the states. While 20 percent of children are covered by Medicaid or CHIP,
only 6 percent of adults are covered, resulting in a greater likelihood of being unin-
sured for adults (Figure 1). Of the 38.4 million Americans who were uninsured in
2000, 9.2 million were children and 29.3 million were adults. While young adults
ages 19 through 24 have the highest rate of uninsurance of any age group, they rep-
resent only 17 percent of the uninsured population (see Table 1).
Low-income individuals are disproportionately represented among the uninsured.
Because poor and near-poor families have a greater chance of being uninsured,
nearly two-thirds (64%) of the uninsured come from low-income families earning less
than 200 percent of the poverty level (Figures 2). [In 2002, an income of $27,476
per year places a family of three at 200% of poverty.] Over a third (36%) of the unin-
sured come from families living below the poverty level.
The likelihood of being uninsured decreases substantially as income rises (Figure
3). Over a third (36%) of the poor and 26 percent of the near-poor are uninsured
in contrast to 6 percent of people with incomes at or above 300 percent of poverty,
or roughly $41,000 a year for a family of three. Employer-sponsored coverage is ex-
tremely limited for the low-income population; only 18 percent of the poor and 47
percent of the near-poor receive coverage through their employer. Medicaid helps to
offset the lower levels of private insurance for over a third (37%) of the poor and
17 percent of the near-poor. The near-poor run a high risk of being uninsured be-
cause with their higher incomes they are less likely to be eligible for Medicaid than
the poor, but also less likely than higher income families to have access to employer
sponsored health insurance.
This confluence of factors relating to the characteristics of the uninsured places
low-income adults at the center of the issue. In 2000, 47% of the 38.4 million unin-
sured Americans were low-income adults16 percent parents of low-income children
and 31 percent low-income adults without children (Figure 4). The higher level of
uninsurance among low-income adults reflects both the lack of insurance coverage
in many low wage workplaces and the exclusion of coverage for childless adults in
most Medicaid programs. Medicaid coverage, and the availability of federal match-
ing funds to states for coverage, has historically not been available for childless non-
disabled adults, no matter how poor. Assuring coverage for this group, as well as
the parents of low-income children who are now largely eligible for public coverage,
poses the next challenge in coverage expansions.
Limits to Private Insurance
While most Americans rely on employer-sponsored coverage to provide group in-
surance coverage for themselves and their families, many working families fall out-

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42
side the scope of workplace coverage. Eight in ten of the uninsured come from work-
ing families72 percent come from families where at least one person works full-
time outside the home and another 11 percent come from families with part-time
employment. Among the low-income uninsured, 58 percent of the poor and 96 per-
cent of the near-poor are working or have workers in their families.
Most uninsured workers (over 70%), and consequently their dependents, are not
offered job-based health coverage, either through their own or a family members
job. Lack of access to employer-sponsored coverage is particularly a problem for low-
wage workers (Figure 5). Only 60 percent of low-wage workers (those earning less
than $7 per hour) have access to job-based coverage through their own or a family
members job, compared to 96 percent of high-wage workers (those earning at least
$15 per hour). For 40 percent of low-wage workers, in contrast to only 4 percent
of high-wage workers, health benefits were not offered.
The likelihood of being offered coverage in the workplace depends largely on
where one works, including the size, industry, and wage level of the firm. Most large
firms offer coverage, but many smaller firms do not. Small firms face particular
challenges in offering their employees coverage due to high turnover rates and small
risk pools, which may lead to high premiums for group coverage. Low wage workers
often work in small businesses, particularly in retail and service industries where
health insurance is not widely offered as a fringe benefit. Low wage workers who
are typical employees in a firm are also less likely to be offered coverage: surveys
and research have shown that the more low wage workers an employer has, the less
likely they are to offer health coverage.
When health insurance is offered in the workplace, most employees opt for cov-
erage even though the share of the premium borne by the employee can be substan-
tial, especially for low-wage workers. In 2001, the average annual family premium
for employer sponsored group coverage was $7,053 (Figure 6). The workers con-
tribution to that premium was, on average, 26 percent, or $1,801 for the year. For
a full-year, full-time worker earning $7 an hour, the employee share of premiums
represents 12 percent of the familys $14,500 annual income. However, for many low
wage workers, the employer covers less than half of the premium, making the cost
of coverage even more unaffordable. As a result, even when coverage is offered,
many low wage workers are unable to finance their share of the premiums.
If health insurance coverage is not available through a group policy from an em-
ployer, families are hard pressed to be able to find and pay for a policy in the indi-
vidual insurance market. Most directly purchased policies are expensive and have
more limited benefits and more out-of-pocket costs than group coverage plans. More-
over, the cost of these policies is based on age and health risk, and any preexisting
health conditions are generally excluded from coverage. For the average low-income
family, a $6,000 family policy in the individual market would consume a quarter
or more of their income, provide only limited protection, and could exclude coverage
for any family members with health problems.
The limits of employer-sponsored and privately purchased health insurance leave
millions of low-income children and adults at risk for being uninsured. While on av-
erage 16 percent of nonelderly people are without insurance today, uninsured rates
vary widely across the country, reflecting the economic environment and employ-
ment structure in different states. States with more agriculture and small business
and retail industry and less manufacturing have higher rates of uninsurance. From
1999 to 2000, 17 states and the District of Columbia had 16 percent or more of their
nonelderly population uninsured (Figure 7).
Public Coverage for the Low Income Population
The lack of employer-sponsored coverage leaves millions of low-income families
without private coverage; for many, Medicaid, and most recently CHIP for low-in-
come children, helps to fill the gap. Medicaid now covers one in five of Americas
children, providing health insurance coverage with limited cost sharing and com-
prehensive benefits to 21 million low-income children and 8 million low-income par-
ents. CHIP has extended coverage to another 4 million children.
Together, Medicaid and CHIP already play a strong role in reducing uninsured
rates among low-income children, with over half (52%) of poor children and nearly
a third (30%) of near-poor children now receiving coverage through these programs.
With the decoupling of Medicaid and welfare as part of welfare reform in 1996 and
the enactment of CHIP in 1997, states have substantially expanded the income lim-
its to extend eligibility to millions of poor and near poor uninsured children. By
2002, 39 states and the District of Columbia had raised their income eligibility lev-
els to at least 200 percent of poverty (Figure 8).
However, the potential to cover almost all uninsured low-income children will only
be realized if steps are taken to make enrollment easier for the eligible population.

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Often, eligible children remain uninsured because their parents are not aware of the
coverage available or find the hurdles to establish eligibility and enroll too cum-
bersome. Long application forms with extensive questions on work history, assets,
and personal information, coupled with use of welfare offices and personnel for proc-
essing enrollment, have discouraged many applicants from initiating or completing
the process. The steps that states are now taking to simplify enrollment and reduce
the burden of enrolling on families are essential to make public coverage work effec-
tively for low-income working families.
While much more progress can be made in improving how Medicaid works for
children, Medicaids current reach among low-income families is compromised by
limitations in coverage of parents of eligible children. Medicaid originally covered
low-income families by including both children and parents receiving welfare assist-
ance. However, over time, as eligibility expansions focused on children and pregnant
women, coverage of parents lagged behind, often remaining at state welfare levels.
As a result, millions of low-income children have gained eligibility while their par-
ents, unless pregnant or disabled, remain uninsured. In addition, many families who
are eligible for Medicaid but not enrolled lost coverage in the wake of welfare re-
form, as confusion and computer systems problems erroneously dropped many from
Medicaid coverage when they left cash assistance. Moreover, welfare reform also re-
stricted public coverage for many immigrants.
Nearly one-third of low-income parents are uninsured, and of these 5.3 million un-
insured parents, less than a third (31%) are potentially eligible for Medicaid but not
enrolled. The bulk of uninsured parents (69%) do not currently qualify for Medicaid
coverage because their limited income or assets make them ineligible under the
stringent eligibility standards for adults. One of the key strategies for improving
coverage of the low-income population is to raise parents eligibility levels to those
of their children to achieve coverage for the whole family. This step would not only
cover more low-income adults, it would also provide an additional incentive to par-
ents to enroll their children.
While welfare reform contributed to increasing the number of low-income unin-
sured parents, the changes enacted along with the welfare legislation under Section
1931 of the Social Security Act also offered states new opportunities to substantially
expand family coverage. States were granted greater flexibility in family composi-
tion rules and the counting of income and resources, enabling them to extend cov-
erage to single- and two-parent households and more low-income, working parents.
Using either this new authority or Section 1115 waivers from the Secretary of
Health and Human Services, 18 states now provide some Medicaid coverage to par-
ents up to and above 100 percent of the poverty level (Figure 9). However, in 15
states, coverage for parents remains at or below 50 percent of poverty.
The most glaring omission in Medicaid coverage, however, is the exclusion of cov-
erage for low-income childless adults. Nearly half of the uninsured low-income popu-
lation falls outside Medicaids reach because they are adults without children. Low-
income adults without children have the highest rates of lack of insurance45 per-
cent of poor and 35 percent of near-poor childless adults are uninsured. Unless they
become totally and permanently disabled and can qualify for disability assistance
under the Supplemental Security Income cash assistance program, they are gen-
erally ineligible for Medicaid. Eight states have used Medicaid waivers to provide
Medicaid to low-income childless adults, but coverage remains limited.
Clearly, Medicaid plays a crucial role as an insurer of low-income children and
adults, but coverage for the low-income population remains limited by restrictive eli-
gibility and policies and procedures that have carried over from Medicaids welfare
heritage. Converting Medicaid from a welfare assistance program to a health in-
surer for low-income people and building on Medicaid and CHIP offer an oppor-
tunity to bring broader-based coverage to the low-income population and fill the
gaps left by employer-based coverage.
Health Coverage in the New Economy
Extending coverage through employer-sponsored and public coverage faces addi-
tional challenges as our weaker economy puts new stress on the system. In recent
years, the thriving economy helped to moderate growth of the uninsured population
as employers used health care benefits as a way to attract and retain workers in
a competitive market. At the same time, states expanded Medicaid and CHIP cov-
erage of children. The economic downturn now places health insurance coverage for
working families in jeopardy from both loss of employer-sponsored coverage and lim-
its on the availability and scope of Medicaid as a fallback.
Both employer-sponsored coverage and Medicaid(and, as a result, the number of
uninsured(are sensitive to economic conditions. In times of recession, employer-spon-
sored coverage declines, and while Medicaid absorbs some of the loss in coverage,

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44
many more people go uninsured. It is estimated that for every 100 workers added
to the unemployment rolls, 85 people will join the ranks of the uninsured. When
our national unemployment rate rose from 4.0% in December 2000 to 5.8% in De-
cember 2001, we estimate that the number of uninsured increased by 2.2 million
(Figure 10).
In addition, the changing economy also poses other threats to coverage for work-
ers. Employers who began to offer coverage to lure workers in a tight labor market
are likely to cut back on those offers. Employees hours may be cut back, making
them ineligible for health benefits as part-time workers. As employers face shrink-
ing profits, they may also look to health insurance as a way to cut costs, either by
cutting eligibility for some workers, cutting back benefits, or passing a larger share
of the cost of insurance on to employees.
All of these scenarios are made even more likely by the fact that the cost of em-
ployer-sponsored coverage is rising again after several years of decline (Figure 11).
Our recent survey of employer-sponsored health benefits found that from 2000 to
2001, premium costs increased on average 11 percent. However, even more trou-
bling, most employers, especially large employers who are most likely to offer cov-
erage, reported it was likely that these increased costs would be passed along to
their employees by increasing their premium share or reducing plan benefits. For
workers with marginal incomes, such actions could make maintaining coverage for
themselves and their families unaffordable.
Just as the slowdown in the economy could bring a return to the erosion in job-
based coverage, the weakened economy and the return of rising health costs could
severely compromise public coverage for the low-income population. Declining tax
revenues and growing budgetary concerns will undoubtedly drive many states to re-
duce Medicaid spending and limit expansions of coverage to new populations if addi-
tional state spending is required.
During difficult economic times, Medicaid programs get caught in the crossfire be-
tween the need for increased coverage and spending and the erosion of state reve-
nues and constraints on state budgets. Rising unemployment drives Medicaid enroll-
ment upward. Using Congressional Budget Office estimates of Medicaid enrollment
in 2002, simulations by the Urban Institute predict Medicaid enrollment for children
and non-elderly adults at 44.7 million when unemployment is at 4.5%, but rising
to 47.9 million if unemployment rises to 6.5%, assuming no other changes than
those directly attributable to increases in unemployment (Figure 12). Such increases
in Medicaid enrollment have fiscal implications for federal and state Medicaid
spending.
Open-ended federal matching funds through Medicaid allow spending to increase
automatically in response to higher enrollment levels, but states must provide
matching funds to avail themselves of the federal assistance. Reduced state reve-
nues are now placing severe strains on many state budgets. The strong economic
growth during the mid- to late-1990s allowed states to build up significant balances,
but at the end of 2000 states began to see their tax collections fall and their spend-
ing exceed expectations. Many states had to dip deeply into their year-end balances
to cope with budget pressures. By the end of December 2001, 39 states were report-
ing budget shortfalls for fiscal year 2002.
The return of health care cost escalation, as reflected both in employer premiums
and rising Medicaid payments, makes both maintaining and expanding coverage
more difficult. Cost increases in the private market put pressure on Medicaid pro-
grams to keep pace as a major purchaser of care. In order to maintain access to
care for its beneficiaries, Medicaid programs are being pushed to raise payment
rates for health plans and providers and pay for the escalating cost of prescription
drugs. In a recent survey, state Medicaid officials reported that the top reasons for
Medicaid expenditure growth in FY2001 were pharmacy costs (48 states); provider
rate increases (31 states); enrollment increases from eligibility expansions and
growth of the disabled population (27 states), and increased costs for long-term care
(24 states) (Figure 13). Given Medicaids role as a provider of health and long-term
care services for the nations sickest and most disadvantaged populations, these cost
pressures are only likely to grow over time.
The challenge for states and their Medicaid programs is how to meet the growing
demand for coverage when fiscal resources are constrained. Some states are trying
to hold the line and not reduce funding this year, but others have already initiated
budget reduction actions for fiscal 2002. States are considering, and some have im-
plemented, reductions in provider payments, eligibility and/or benefits; capping en-
rollment in the SCHIP program; or putting planned expansions on hold. Others are
planning to use the new waiver authority (the Health Insurance Flexibility and Ac-
countability Demonstration Initiative, or HIFA) to alter eligibility and benefits
under Medicaid to address budget problems.

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State budgetary problems coupled with the pressure to restrain health care spend-
ing portend difficult times ahead for health coverage of the low-income population.
As health care costs rise, there will be increased pressure on states to cut back on
spending and reduce services and/or coverage. If states respond to their difficult fis-
cal situations by cutting Medicaid in the months ahead, it will not only make it
more difficult for newly unemployed workers to secure coverage, but could also re-
duce coverage for those currently enrolled. Limitations in public coverage would fur-
ther exacerbate our nations uninsured problem.
Conclusion
While the profile of the uninsured population and the factors contributing to their
lack of coverage remain the same as in earlier years, the prospects for reducing the
number of uninsured Americans have dimmed in light of the changes in our econ-
omy. Given the recent economic downturn and the renewed growth in health care
costs, it appears we are facing the potential of seeing health care coverage erode,
not expand, for millions on Americans.
Health care is expensivebeyond the reach of most American families to purchase
on their own. As health costs grow and the premiums for insurance rise, health cov-
erage through the workplace is likely to become less available and more
unaffordable for working families. Clearly, efforts to control health care spending
and make coverage more affordable for employers and employees alike is an essen-
tial part of any strategy to maintain and broaden coverage over the long term.
Rising health costs and state fiscal constraints put the low-income population re-
lying on Medicaid and CHIP particularly at risk. Maintaining the gains in public
coverage over the last decade, especially for children, may require additional federal
financing assistance to the states in return for a commitment to maintain coverage
at current levels. Increasing the federal matching rate for Medicaid for low-income
children and families would both provide additional resources to states to maintain
coverage and even provide an incentive to states to extend coverage. Supplementing
and retaining CHIP dollars would also help stabilize coverage for low-income chil-
dren in the short-run.
I commend the Committee for its efforts to highlight the plight of the 38 million
Americans without health insurance coverage and to look at options that could help
address this growing problem. I look forward to working with the Committee to
meet the challenge of making health care coverage a reality for all Americans.
Thank you for the opportunity to testify today. I welcome any questions.

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Mr. BILIRAKIS. Thank you very much, Dr. Rowland. Well, the
Chair recognizes himself. Dr. Kellermann, you state that the com-
bination of strict eligibility requirements and enrollment proce-
dures make public coveragewell, you have given us some stag-
gering facts I might add, but make public coverage difficult to ob-
tain, and even harder to keep.
And then you go on and state that the medium length of time
for someone under the age of 65 that keeps Medicaid coverage is
about half-a-year, 5 months, 6 months, whatever.
And at the end of any given year, about two-thirds of the people
who were insured by Medicaid at the start of the year have loss
their coverage for any number of reasons. Those are all staggering
facts, and it seems to me that before we can complete our work in
terms of whatever it is that we might ultimately decide might be
the solution, we are going to have to really look into these facts.
I wonder if you can elaborate a little bit on why all of these
things might take place.
Mr. KELLERMANN. Our report gives a fairly detailed breakdown
of these issues. I think the theme in my mind is that our system
is just incredibly complex, and it is complex in a way that changes
and evolves almost in a month to month or year to year basis.
It is as if we have a target that we want people to hit, but we
move it whenever we can just to make sure that they miss, wheth-
er it is an uninsured family trying to qualify for Medicaid, or it an
ER doctor trying to fill out the paperwork properly to get paid for
the care they have given.
Or any of the other issues in the system, and regardless of the
direction we go in, I think we have to understand that systems
have to be simple and understandable if our true goal is to ensure
that we get medical care to people who need it.
And complexity alone, independent of financing and other issues,
is a tremendous obstacle to getting people insured, and keeping
people insured.
Ms. ROWLAND. Mr. Chairman, if I could add that much of the
work that the committee has done around children and around im-
proving the retention of children in both Medicaid and CHIP has
been an incredible step in the right direction from the studies that
Dr. Kellermann was stating.
We now help to keep children enrolled throughout the course of
a year, and have tremendously simplified the enrollment, and I
think the committee should be quite pleased with the progress that
has been made in most States at improving the enrollment process
for both Medicaid and CHIP at your direction.
Mr. BILIRAKIS. Are you saying then that we should possibly
hitch-hike upon the S-CHIP program as a partial solution?
Ms. ROWLAND. Well, Medicaid has certainly already begun to
hitch-hike on the S-CHIP program, in terms of coverage of chil-
dren, and I think the ground has been laid in many States for real-
ly improving the way enrollment is handled and participation is
maintained. But we still have a ways to go clearly.
Ms. GREALY. Well, Mr. Chairman, I think there is a way that we
could also reduce that complexity for employers and those States
that are using this new demonstration authority to leverage those

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State dollars and help purchase coverage for the parents, as well
as the children, through the employer.
So it is a way that we can leverage the dollars, but the employer
certainly could be helped, as well as the beneficiaries of these pro-
grams, by making it much less complex for them being able to do
that coverage.
Mr. BILIRAKIS. Well, let meand I wold like to get back into that
if my time doesnt run out, but let me askI am sure that you are
all familiar with the Presidents plan. We dont really have all of
the details yet.
He calls it a refundable tax credit approach, and I would like to
look at it more as a voucher if you will, or a certificate, or some-
thing like that. Maybe not even call it a tax credit quite frankly.
How do you feelif that were to talk place, how would you feel
this might work, and would it work, and to what degree might it
work?
Mr. GREALY. I will start. I think the key here is flexibility. That
it is something that could be used in a variety of settings. If one
is able to find something in the marketplace where those products
are available, my guess is that every time we make modifications
in the tax code, we see the market develop and respond to those
new incentives.
But another approach would be, and as we heard Diane com-
ment, that families are having trouble bridging that premium gap.
For low income workers, if they are paying $1,800 out of their pay-
check, that is a big amount.
If we could take that tax credit and allow them to use it to offset
their premium costs for that private coverage through their em-
ployer, that would be something that would be extremely useful.
So I think again being flexible in using this tax subsidy, voucher,
whatever you want to call it, in a variety of ways would really be
key here.
Mr. BILIRAKIS. Anyone else in that regard?
Ms. ROWLAND. Clearly, one of the issues with a voucher or a tax
credit is where you can utilize that credit. And one of the concerns
about a credit that must go into the non-group market is that it
is very difficult to purchase reasonable coverage, especially for low
income people unless the voucher is tremendously generous.
And so I think the key issue there is what is the generosity of
the voucher, and where can you utilize it. What you gain from pub-
lic coverage is that the State is then responsible for linking you up
to coverage, and when you get with a voucher is the individual has
to look into where they can it in the market.
Mr. BILIRAKIS. Dr. Kellermann.
Mr. KELLERMANN. I think commenting on a specific policy is be-
yond the scope of at least the first IOM report. Our second report
will look a bit at different features of the impact of uninsurance on
peoples health.
Two of the major benefits of health insurance are catastrophic
coverage in the event that you wrap your car around a phone pole
or have a heart attack. The other is encouraging access to preven-
tive care and primary care.
So I think whatever solution we do, I hope will include a mecha-
nism that will encourage people to get medical care early and ap-

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55

propriately so that I will see fewer of those patients in the emer-


gency room with a costly condition.
Mr. BILIRAKIS. All right. My time has expired. Mr. Brown, to in-
quire.
Mr. BROWN. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I thank all three of you
on the panel. Ms. Rowland, you talked about people in low wage
jobs are obviously much less likely to have insurance in your re-
sponse to the Chairman about the vouchers or tax credits.
We hear talk about insurance, and we hear talk about coverage.
Would you make the distinction, Ms. Rowland, on what that means
when we all brag about, well, maybe with tax credits we can give
insurance to people. What does that really mean in contrast to cov-
erage?
Ms. ROWLAND. Well, I think that really is highlighted by the
comment just made by Dr. Kellerman; that what I think of as
health insurance coverage is access to primary care, to preventive
services, to immunizations, to pre-natal care, as well as coverage
for more intensive hospitalization, chemotherapy, and other serv-
ices.
So it is really assistance at gaining access to the whole range of
health care services. What I think about in terms of insurance cov-
erage is that often we end up more looking at kind of covering after
the initial primary care is paid for out of pocket.
So I think a policy in which there is a $1,000 deductible before
the policy begins to cover any services is not going to promote the
kind of access to primary care and preventive services that we feel
are so important, especially for the low income population.
Mr. BROWN. I would like to switch to Medicaid for a moment. Ms.
Rowland, you talked about the health insurance flexibility waivers.
Proponents suggest that the waivers allow flexibility, more flexi-
bility with respect to cost sharing for optional Medicaid groups.
They also say that proponents also say that they give States
flexibility with respect to optional benefits. Would you describe
what some of those options are, and what that means, and what
some of those optional groups are, and what some of those optional
benefits are?
And would you also in this same answer talk about what Utah
did, and what Michigan is considering doing?
Ms. ROWLAND. Well, the Medicaid statute obviously has require-
ments in the Federal statute on what populations and services
States must cover. And then it gives States the option to receive
Federal matching funds for other groups of individuals and other
services.
So the optional groups are those for which Federal matching is
available, but there is no Federal statute requiring coverage. Chil-
dren up to the poverty level are now mandatory covered by Med-
icaid because Federal statute requires all States to cover them Peo-
ple who, for example, are medically needy, and have large medical
expenses, and spend down to Medicaid coverage, are optional be-
cause they are offered at the option of the State.
Or even the parent of a child at 50 percent of poverty is optional
because the State is not required to cover parents of Medicaid eligi-
ble children. So the concept of optional really depends on whether
the State has elected to cover them or not.

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Most of them we would consider to still be among the poorest


part of our population, and in need of the same kind of services as
the mandated populations. The kinds of benefits that are optional
include most of the long term care spending for the elderly, for ex-
ample, under Medicaid.
So when States are looking at these waivers, the dollars that
they spend are mostly on optional groups for optional services, but
this means for elderly and disabled people getting their long term
care services.
And when they look at this waiver, the waiver requires budget
neutrality. They cant spend any more money on Medicaid to ex-
pand coverage than they would in the absence of the waiver.
So there are going to have to be real tradeoffs within the pro-
gram of how you stretch benefits for one group of poor people to
cover additional groups of low income people. And that is one of the
concerns that has come up around the Utah waiver, where people
at 50 percent of poverty, who are parents, who are optional groups,
earning probably around $8,000 for a family of three, are being
asked to pay up front a $50 enrollment fee to get coverage, would
have a $100 deductible before they could get hospital care, and
would have substantial cost sharing.
And the question is whether that kind of coverage is really going
to provide them to the kind of health services that we have pre-
viously talked about, and whether that is a good way to finance a
minimal expansion of coverage to other populations.
Mr. BROWN. In Michigan?
Ms. ROWLAND. I am not familiar with the Michigan program.
Mr. BROWN. We on this committee a couple of 3 years ago passed
the Breast and Cervical Cancer Treatment Act as you remember.
We had done the program several years before for the screening.
What does the waiver policy mean for those groupsthe disabled
and the people that have, say, breast cancer, cervical cancer, low
income womenthat are eligible for those programs?
What does the waiver policy mean for Medicaid and CHIP bene-
ficiaries there? Well, I think the key in the waiver policy is that
no new money is put on the table. So it means that any expansion
of services has to take place within the same dollar levels as the
State is currently spending.
So you need to reduce benefits for some groups in order to have
available dollars to expand coverage to other groups, groups like
those being treated for cervical and breast cancer, and the disabled
are among the most expensive, because they use the most health
services on Medicaids roles.
Thats where the dollars are that you can really try and cut back
on in order to finance additional care. So I think what the waivers
mean is we will be covering a few new people at the expense of
some of the sick and low income people on the program.
Mr. BROWN. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Mr. BILIRAKIS. I thank the gentlemen. Mr. Burr to inquire.
Mr. BURR. I thank the Chair and I thank our witnesses today.
I just have one question and I will get all three of you to address
it. If the Federal Government were to raise the minimum wage,
and lets say just for simplicity sake $1 an hour, what would your

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position be if we gave employers the option of providing it in pay


or in similar health benefits? Let me start with you, Ms. Rowland.
Ms. ROWLAND. Well, I think raising the minimum wage and giv-
ing the employers the choice would do very little to alleviate our
uninsured problem, because the minimum wage workers are the
ones in which insurance is not offered generally now.
And I think that most workers obviously think that getting
health insurance is important, but the minimum wage workers
dont have that coverage.
Mr. BURR. Maybe you misunderstood. If an employer chose rath-
er than to pass the $1 on in a wage increase, and to use that if
it were a 40 hour week, $2,080, in-turn to purchase an insurance
policy for that employee or partially for the family under a group
negotiated plan, which would for the first time provide insurance
coverage to the minimum wage worker, what would your position
be?
Should an employer have that option if in fact they chose to do
that?
Ms. ROWLAND. Well, I would certainly think employers should be
encouraged in every way to offer health insurance coverage, though
I still think raising the minimum wage may be a more effective
way for low income families to go than getting the health insurance
coverage partially supported by their employer.
Mr. BURR. Your belief would be that the individual would take
that dollar and would use it for health care?
Ms. ROWLAND. I believe the individual at a minimum wage level
would probably take that dollar and use it for living expenses,
which could include health care, but might not.
Mr. BURR. But health care would be down the list?
Ms. ROWLAND. Generally, I think for the lowest wage people,
there are other demands on their family budget before they get to
affording health care.
Mr. BURR. Thank you. Ms. Grealy.
Ms. GREALY. I think anything we can do to help those small em-
ployers offer health insurance is a good thing, and if that is an op-
tion that would be presented, I think that would be a very positive
thing.
Again, I just keep coming back to flexibility. But also sort of re-
ferring back to Congressman Browns comments about the Med-
icaid program, and how stretched they are, and how they are shift-
ing benefits and dollars around.
How can we best leverage those limited dollars? I think what you
are talking about with the minimum wage, what would be the best
way to use those dollars. With the Medicaid program, is there some
way we can leverage. And what those employers who do offer in-
surance, or those that would like to offer insurance, and use our
limited dollars and add those employer dollars.
Because employers are willing to put a lot of money on the table
for health are, and they arent doing it. So I think any way we an
aid them in enhancing that would be a very positive thing.
Mr. BURR. Doctor.
Mr. KELLERMANN. Again, our committee has spoken specifically
about policy options. I will tell you as a doctor and as a brother,
my brother is living on top of a mountain in East Tennessee.

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He is 2 months behind on his mortgage, and he doesnt know


how he is going to buy his groceries next week. You ask him if he
can make a little extra money on a minimum wage job, and he is
going to probably opt for groceries and the mortgage before he opts
for insurance. Anything is better than nothing. So I would encour-
age you and your fellow members to struggle with the issue, but
I think we are going to have to really analyze those choices in a
very careful way before we lay policies out for folks.
Mr. BURR. Well, let me just add as a commentary for any of us
to determine arbitrarily what any individual needs to meet their
living expenses really is to guess what their living expenses are.
And if they rent, or they own, or wherever they are. The question
that I was really trying to get in is how important is it that we
provide a health care benefit, and that we find a mechanism to get
coverage to individuals?
And when we talk about a dollar increase or an increase in the
minimum wage, there is a real opportunityit may not be the em-
ployees first choice, and we may all agree that the minimum wage
level should be higher than where it is.
But if the objective is to provide coverage, do we have a mecha-
nism through employers, and based upon their group plans, where
they negotiate more extensive coverage with less money, and
money that we have mandated that they put on the table.
And I think it is something that we all need to think about, be-
cause it is a mechanism for some percentage of those individuals
out there today that are uninsured, and I have yet to hear a plan
where we wipe out the uninsured population in America with one
silver bullet.
This will take a number of initiatives, and this may be one of
them, and I hope that you will put some thought to it. Thank you,
Mr. Chairman.
Mr. BILIRAKIS. Would the gentleman yield?
Mr. BURR. I would be happy to.
Mr. BILIRAKIS. I appreciate that. Are there advantages to cov-
ering the uninsured through employer programs, versus the S-
CHIP and Medicaid programs, public programs?
Ms. GREALY. Well, I think we have heard several reasons as to
why that might be the better approach. Lets look at what the like-
ly benefit package is going to be in an employer-based insurance
market.
It probably is going to have those preventive services that Dr.
Kellermann feels is so important. And it is probably likely to be
more stable. It is something that is going to last for a year, and
not something that you have to qualify for every month.
So I think there are definitely advantages, and we also find that
as income rises, there is less participation in some of the public
programs, whether it be Medicaid, S-CHIPS, SLIMB, QUIMB, or
whatever.
So if we are looking at expanding those programs, we might
want to take a look at is there some way we can help employers
offer medical coverage.
Mr. BILIRAKIS. Dr. Kellermann, do you agree?
Mr. KELLERMANN. Well, one of the complexities that I think we
have, particularly when we are dealing with small businessesand

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I come from a small business familyis that the very economic


times when folks need health insurance the most is when small
businesses are least able to afford it, and have more workers than
they have positions to offer.
And so they dont need health insurance as a benefit to attract
them. So there is some realthe problem with the system right
now is when we need it to work the best, it typically works the
poorest. And it is a real challenge for small businesses, as well as
for workers.
Mr. BILIRAKIS. But you agree that if that challenge were some-
how met that there would be advantages to go that route?
Mr. KELLERMANN. Well, the devil is in the somehow, but I think
if we can work together, and there is a feasible way to make it hap-
pen, anything we can do to make itI will take any improvement
that we can get on the short term.
On the long term, I think we have to look at a 25 year trend,
and realize that we have to understand this very fundamental
level, and not making decisions itself is going to create enormous
problems.
Mr. BILIRAKIS. Dr. Rowland, very briefly.
Ms. ROWLAND. I think we really need to look at combination
strategies, and for the very lowest income population, and espe-
cially for those with severe disability who now rely on Medicaid, I
think the public program approach is very important and should be
maintained.
But obviously as one goes up the income spectrum, one needs to
deal more with the employer-based system and try and shore that
up. The saddest fact to me is that in the best economy we have had
with the lowest health insurance premiums, we made so little
progress in getting a higher pick-up rate in the employer-based sys-
tem.
And I think that really shows that in harder economic times that
the lower end of the income spectrum, always public programs will
be an important safety net.
Mr. BILIRAKIS. Thank you. Mr. Strickland, to inquire.
Mr. STRICKLAND. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. Ms. Rowland, you
made a good point there; in the best of economic times. We went
in the wrong direction of having more of our citizens insured; isnt
that correct?
Ms. ROWLAND. We did make a little modest progress in the best
of economic times in-part because of the expanded public coverage
under the S-CHIP program, and along with Medicaid and in-part
because there was an increase in employer offerings, and people at
the higher incomes did get some health insurance through the em-
ployers.
But it was a modest dip in light of a very robust economy and
low premiums.
Mr. STRICKLAND. So are you telling me that in terms of raw
numbers there were fewer people uninsured 5 years ago than there
are now?
Ms. ROWLAND. In 1999 and 2000, we saw the first dip in a dec-
ade in the number of uninsured, but it was about a million to 2
million dip.

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We are now expecting because of the decline in the economy that


the next snapshot that we take will show a rise of maybe 2 or 3
million more uninsured just over the course of this year. Obviously,
the Census numbers always lag behind the economic reality of
today.
Mr. STRICKLAND. Thank you. Ms. Rowland, one way to measure
the success or failure of any policy to cover the uninsured is to look
at how it addresses the needs of those with above average health
risks, like the disabled and the chronically ill.
And I think that is especially the case when we think of giving
someone voucher to go out and look for insurance. Now, I know the
Kaiser Foundation, and in particular the Commission on Medicaid
and the Uninsured, has done work on the issue of the disabled and
their insurance coverage.
Could you please provide us some background about who the dis-
abled or the chronically ill are, and what their particular health
are needs may be?
Ms. ROWLAND. Well, the Medicaid disability population is one
that generally qualifies for supplemental security income, cash as-
sistance, from the Federal Government, along with having severe
enough disabilities to make them permanently and totally disabled.
They include the developmentally disabled, people with mental
retardation, children with spinal bifida and other special health
care needs, and people with HIV and AIDS.
So the disability population within Medicaid is a very high risk
population, one that virtually no private insurer would want to see
enter upon their roles.
That population is among the most expensive on the Medicaid
program. They consume 80 percent of all the prescription drug
spending under Medicaid today, and have very high acute care
costs, and very high long term care costs.
In addition, among Medicaids more disabled populations, they
take care of 5 million of low income Medicare beneficiaries who
count on Medicaid to provide drugs, long term care, and other
issues to supplement Medicare.
So the most expensive, the 73 percent of the dollars spent in
Medicaid, go for the disabled and the elderly, as opposed to the
children, who make up 51 percent of the beneficiaries, but only
about 15 percent of the expenditures.
Mr. STRICKLAND. What success do you think these individuals
would have if they were provided with a voucher and asked to go
out into the market and find coverage?
Ms. ROWLAND. I dont think they could find any coverage that
would be both affordable, and that would also cover the kinds of
services that Medicaid overs, because here Medicaid is not an in-
surance policy.
It is really a coverage policy, providing not only acute care, hos-
pital, and physician services, but rehab services, institutional care
for the mentally retarded. And I think that is where we have to
be very clear about what the Medicaid program is.
It is not a health insurance program for low income families. It
is a complex set of multiple services for the elderly, the disabled,
including long term care, mental health services, and other bene-

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fits, generally not available through any private health insurance


plan.
Mr. STRICKLAND. The disabled community has recently success-
fully supported Medicaid expansion. For example, the Ticket to
Work Act, which Congress passed in 1999, which allows the work-
ing disabled to buy into or continue Medicaid coverage as their in-
come increased.
Also, the Family Opportunity Act, which we hope will pass this
year, would allow disabled children to receive coverage through
Medicaid. Could you talk about why the Medicaid program is so
successful in providing coverage for this population?
Ms. ROWLAND. Well, because the Medicaid program has to pro-
vide coverage for this population that it does. The employers of
these individuals are reluctant to hire them if they think they are
going to be adding this disabled person into their employer risk
pool, because it will influence the premiums that they as an em-
ployer have to pay.
So one of the things that the Ticket to Work Act really does is
helps make those individuals employable because their health in-
surance costs and coverage are still provided by the Medicaid pro-
gram.
So again that is Medicaids role as a safety net, compensating
and making public or private insurance through the employer not
become unduly expensive because of the hire of a severely disabled
individual.
Mr. STRICKLAND. So the Medicaid programand I think this is
important for us to understand. The Medicaid program does not
discriminate against people on the basis of their illness like the in-
dividual market discriminates. Is that a correct statement?
Ms. ROWLAND. No, the Medicaid program is set up to cover the
sickest and the illest people in our society who cannot otherwise
get coverage elsewhere. You might remember years ago that this
committee dealt with a young woman named Katie Beckett, who
was hospitalized with a severe respiratory illness, and on a res-
pirator, and unable to be released from the hospital.
Private insurance wouldnt cover her, or let her go home, and her
mother successfully argued for Medicaid waivers, where Medicaid
now covers such individuals, and allows them to return home.
And one of the success stories of Katie Beckett is that she has
now graduated from college instead of living in an institution for
her whole life thanks to the kinds of coverage Medicaid gives.
Mr. STRICKLAND. Thank god for Medicaid. Thank you.
Mr. BILIRAKIS. The gentlemans time has expired. The gentleman
from Kentucky, Mr. Whitfield, to inquire.
Mr. WHITFIELD. Dr. Kellermann, you had indicated that you were
going to have five more studies coming out; is that correct?
Mr. KELLERMANN. Yes, sir.
Mr. WHITFIELD. And will one of those studies go into more detail
on options available to expand?
Mr. KELLERMANN. It will. The second report in May is going to
deal with the individual health consequences of uninsurance. The
third will examine children and families. The fourthand very im-
portant oneis going to look at the effect of large numbers of unin-

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62

sured on ERs, trauma centers, and public institutions that care for
everyone.
The fifth report is going to look at how much are we paying, and
how are we paying for the uninsured. And the final report will ex-
amine what private business, communities, State governments, and
the Federal Government are doing that may offer us some insights
into effective strategies.
I dont suggest you wait to deal with this problem, but that is
the basic sequence the committee has mapped out for its work.
Mr. WHITFIELD. You are the Chairman of the Emergency Medi-
cine Department at Emory University; is that correct?
Mr. KELLERMANN. Yes, sir.
Mr. WHITFIELD. Let me give you a hypothetical. If a person
comes into the emergency room at Emory University Hospital, and
they have been in a car accident, and they do not have any insur-
ance whatsoever, you treat them; is that correct?
Mr. KELLERMANN. Yes, sir. We treat them both as a matter of
ethics, and also as a matter of Federal law. The only health care
in America to which every American is legally entitled is care in
an emergency department.
Mr. WHITFIELD. Okay. When you finish at the emergency room
and if they need hospitalization, what do you do?
Mr. KELLERMANN. We hospitalize them, and we eat that cost,
and that has implications for everybody in the country.
Mr. WHITFIELD. And how much was that cost last year? Do you
have any idea?
Mr. KELLERMANN. Well, it would be more accurate to say for
Grady Hospital, which is Atlantas only level one trauma center, 60
percent of my patients at Grady are uninsured.
Grady carries tens of millions of dollars in unreimbursed costs
every year, and at the same time State and Federal funding are
being dwindled every year. So there are issues here not only of ac-
cess of care for the uninsured, but everyone in the country involved
in these sorts of issues.
Mr. WHITFIELD. And obviously those costs raises the costs of
health care for everyone, too?
Mr. KELLERMANN. Absolutely. Every time somebody talks about
emergency department care being so expensive, they forget that we
give out enormous amounts of, quote, free care, although we know
it is not free, because we are the only place that people are legally
entitled to go to.
And when you have to go to get medical care, we are the one
place where we have got to take you in. The problem we have today
is that this is a system that everyone takes for granted, and as-
sumes that I can always go to the ER if I have chest pain, or I have
a bad headache, or I am injured.
But as hospitals have gotten whittled and whittled, and have cut
back on beds, and closed, and cut back on staff, we now have not
only in public and teaching hospitals, but private hospitals as well,
emergency rooms full of seriously ill and injured patients who cant
get upstairs because there are no vacant beds.
Mr. WHITFIELD. Well, I might also add at this point that you are
very familiar with Medicaid Dish payments, and of course there is
a cap on that right now, and we are trying to raise that cap to

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make more money available for those hospitals that are dealing
with Medicaid patients.
Mr. KELLERMANN. Yes, sir.
Mr. WHITFIELD. And receiving a disproportionate share of pay-
ments.
Mr. KELLERMANN. If that doesnt happen, we could be in a world
of hurt.
Mr. WHITFIELD. Right. And as you mentioned, people come to an
emergency roomand it doesnt make any difference whether they
have been in an accident. Many people come because they have a
headache, or they have chest pains, or any number of things, and
they will come, because they dont have any other place to go; is
that correct?
Mr. KELLERMANN. They dont know where else to go, and they
often dont have any where else to go.
Mr. WHITFIELD. Now, all of you are familiar with these commu-
nity health centers; is that correct?
Mr. KELLERMANN. Yes, sir.
Mr. WHITFIELD. And I noticed that the President is increasing
the amount of money for community health centers, which raises
the whole question in my mind that most people are sayingwhich
is probably correct, that the only way that you are going to solve
this problem is you are going to have to have a fragmented ap-
proach.
I mean, you have the public health system, Medicaid, Medicare,
and then they say that 80 percent of the uninsured come from
working families, or in working families. So obviously anything
that we could do to assist employers be able to afford health insur-
ance, or even sole proprietors, would be something worth exploring.
But another option would be to simply expand community health
centers so they would be available to everyone. Now do any of you
advocate that or
Mr. KELLERMANN. Providing people access to care that can pro-
vide preventive and primary care is important, and I know in our
report that we observed that currently community health centers
only provide access to about 3.5 of the some 39 to 40 million unin-
sured. So there is a major gap there.
Mr. WHITFIELD. Right. Absolutely.
Ms. GREALY. Mr. Whitfield, I think we definitely want to get in-
surance coverage for me, but the community health coverage do
form an important part of the safety net. And until we can get as
most coverage and insurances that we would like to see, I think it
is important to have that resource available for people to access.
Mr. WHITFIELD. Right. Now, Dr. Rowland, you had mentioned
that Medicaid is not a health insurance program, but the effect is
the same isnt it? I providesI mean, do you feel that the Medicaid
Program is adequate?
Ms. ROWLAND. Well, the Medicaid program is more than a health
insurance program was really what I was trying to say. That it pro-
vides far more than access to basic primary care.
With regard to your community health centers, too, I think that
they provide a very important source of access for primary and pre-
ventive care, but they really dont help with the hospitalization and
some of the follow-up care that Dr. Kellermann mentioned.

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And certainly there are lots of rural uninsured people who really
have no access to the kind of services that a community health cen-
ter would provide. So the problem is that they cant be everywhere
for a very disparate uninsured population.
Mr. WHITFIELD. Well, we have a community health center in my
district, and which is very rural district, and if you had the pri-
mary preventive care covered in some way, and then you had in-
surance for hospitalization, that probably would significantly re-
duce health insurance I am assuming.
If I may ask one other question. Ms. Grealy, you had mentioned
in your testimony something about a program in San Diego, and
one in Sacramento, California that they are now looking at as well.
Could you elaborate on this little bit?
Ms. GREALY. Well, these are modeled after the FAMIS program
and actually the Wayne County, Michigan as well. And the idea
here is that we know that there are employers out there that are
offering health insurance or their employees.
And we also know that there are other small businesses that
would like to do it. And in studying these programs, what we found
is that if the employer could get help with about one-third of the
premium from some program, whether it be Medicaid, S-CHIP, a
local government that is willing to do it, and if the employee could
come up with about a third of the premium, then that small busi-
ness employer could come up with the other third.
And thats what I mean when we talk about how can we leverage
these limited dollars in the best way. So we now see under the S-
CHIP, and Medicaid waiver demonstration authorities, more and
more localities are looking at these programs as a way to work
with the employers.
And instead of bringing the parents on to Medicaid, what they
are trying to do is bring the whole family into the private employer
based coverage.
Mr. BILIRAKIS. The gentlemans time has expired. Mr. Green to
inquire.
Mr. GREEN. Thank you, Mr. Chairman, and I would like to thank
our panel, and even the next panel, because this is such an impor-
tant hearing on our uninsured. Dr. Rowland and Dr. Kellermann,
let me ask my first question.
The Iowa IOM study points out that national immigrants are a
small part of the overall population, although it is growing nation-
ally, but in some States like Texas, and my colleague, Ms. Wilson,
from New Mexico, mentioned that there are a high number of im-
migrants. Do you agree with that?
Mr. KELLERMANN. Yes.
Mr. GREEN. These immigrants are likely to work in jobs where
they arent offered or cannot afford the coverage, and as you know,
they also dont qualify for the public coverage because the States
are banned from covering legal illegal immigrants under the Med-
icaid and CHIP.
And it seems that lifting this ban and giving the States the op-
tion to cover illegal immigrants would be one small, yet helpful,
step, and particularly with the States with high immigrant popu-
lations. Would you comment on that, on lifting that ban on legal
immigrants?

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Ms. ROWLAND. Well, certainly that ban has been one of the con-
tributing factors to the very high rates of uninsurance in those
States, and also to the problems faced by a large part of the immi-
grant community.
I think it would be very helpful to lift those bans so that we
could provide health care access to them through the Medicaid pro-
gram, and through the S-CHIP program. It would certainly be a
great benefit to the States with the largest immigrant population.
But there is a lot of other States that are now seeing a large
growth in the number of immigrants, and they are seeing similar
problems.
Mr. GREEN. Dr. Kellermann.
Mr. KELLERMANN. I would encourage all of you if you want to get
a window into both the complexities and at times the absurdity of
the situation, is when you go back to your district, call up one of
your mission critical hospitals, public teaching, or community, and
spend a couple of hours in the emergency room and see who comes
in, and talk to them.
I know that in Arizona that a colleague of mine has pointed out
that with the immigrant population there that they have very lim-
ited or no access to care. Their answer is that they go to the emer-
gency room.
And they have Ers in Arizona that are dialysising patients three
times a week when they come to the emergency room. They are le-
gally obligated, mandated to do that, with no provision to pay for
that care.
So that gets passed on to everyone else. We should not only be
worried today about access to care for 40 million Americans. We
need to be worried about the fact that the most critical elements
of our health care system are collapsing under the strain of the
burden of care, and the care for 280 million Americans is being
jeopardized.
So we have to be smart, as well as compassionate, and I think
anything that can provide care in the most efficient and timely
manner for the people that we know are going to end up taking
care of anyway is going to make more sense in the long run.
Mr. GREEN. And that is true not just for immigrant populations,
and just as you said, the uninsured show up at the emergency
rooms, because I have seen it in Houston, and our emergency
rooms there, and frankly even for profit hospitals.
Ms. Rowland, in your testimony you said that 2 out of 3 of the
non-elderly receive insurance through employer sponsored insur-
ance?
Ms. ROWLAND. Yes.
Mr. GREEN. I keep hearing in the last couple of years a proposal
tothere is a goal of eliminating employer-based insurance in our
country. It seems by like maybe a small minority, but I hear it on
Talk Radio and things like that.
When you have two-thirds of our non-elderly receive insurance
through employer-sponsored insurance, is that really rational?
Ms. ROWLAND. Well, I think having two-thirds of our population
get coverage through employer-based coverage means if we wanted
to address the uninsured that we should not unravel what we have
before we find new solutions for those that dont have it.

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And which is why I think looking at maintaining and stabilizing


the coverage through public programs, as well as trying to shore
up what is available in the employer-based system today are im-
portant strategies.
Moving people out of employers and refinancing the whole sys-
tem is going to be extremely disruptive, and I think will both in-
crease the number of uninsured in the process, not decrease it.
Mr. GREEN. Thank you. Both in the testimony of this panel, as
well as the next panel, the $1,000 tax credit is talked about as
something that would be beneficial, and I think the goal of my col-
leagues on at least this side of the aisle was universal coverage,
and we realize that we cant get to that.
And so we have to take the good in the system we have, where
two-thirds are covered by employers, and take care of that third in
the uninsured and immigrant. So we are actually nickel and
diming to get to that uniform or universal coverage in different
ways.
And so thats why CHIP was created, and thats why we are look-
ing at expanding CHIP, we hope, and so I know that we have a
lot of estimates on what the private sector can offer, and I know
in the next panel there isin the testimony there is a cost that is
given for an on-line insurance of $159 per month per person.
And about $1,900 a year, and Dr. Kellermann, in your testimony
you say that it is about $7,000 a year. And $1,900 a year for a fam-
ily plan and yours is about $7,000, and the next panel will talk
about that. Why do we have that disparity?
Is that $1,900 a $5,000 deductible or something like that?
Mr. KELLERMANN. I wouldnt know. I would have to ask. I would
say show me the policy and what are the terms. How large are the
co-payments, and what services am I entitled to receive, to know.
I mean, we can buy very cheap cars or very expensive cars. The
devil is in the details. I would have to know what specifically was
being offered in that plan to know whether it is value or not.
Mr. KELLERMANN. And I guess what worries me is that we can
find a low quote, but it would be a high deductible, and for trying
to get the uninsured who are either moderate or poor, they are not
going to have $5,000 or $10,000 to pay before they even go into a
hospital anyway.
Mr. GREEN. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Mr. BILIRAKIS. Mr. Bryant.
Mr. BRYANT. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. Let me address this
panel, and I am not sure anyone has any direct expertise on this,
but you probably have opinions on both panels about what I al-
luded to in my opening statement about what I call the uninsur-
able, and not just the uninsurable, the high risk.
And I tried to compare it to automobile insurance, and again
there is a much different environment there. I dont think there is
any way that you could limit your exposure there, and I am still
talking about bringing insurance companies in to this type of thing.
And if you write in that State, you have to insure health insur-
ance for this and take your share. But I think the more traditional
approach on high risk is the State pool. And I am wondering if any
of you had experience with that, and how much the State has.

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Because obviously if your pool is high risk, and even if they pay
a premium in excess of the normal premium, and if they pay high
rates, I cant imagine that would still be sufficient with such a high
risk pool to cover, that that would be sufficient money to cover the
expenses of the high risk population in that pool.
So I guess the State stands behind it. Does anyone have any ex-
perience or is that a loser in terms of huge amounts of money, or
is that a reasonable solution to some of this higher uninsured prob-
lem, or uninsurable problem. High risk.
Ms. GREALY. I would say it is part of the solution, and I think
that is what we have to keep coming back to when we are talking
about the $1,000 tax credit. That may not be the answer for every-
one.
But there may well be a segment of the population that does
have the income to purchase that type of policy. So, lets put that
aside and address your high risk pools. We are hearing from the
States that again if they can get some help from the Federal Gov-
ernment, and I believe there is some funding within the Presidents
budget proposal, that that is a mechanism that can address some
of the problems.
And that that is probably a better way to go than trying to do
the guaranteed issue, which we saw did result in either insurers
leaving a particular locality, or resulting in very high insurance
premiums.
So you are exactly right. Getting the State and perhaps the Fed-
eral Government to some extent to stand behind and fund that risk
pool. Again, it is not the solution, but it certainly is part of the so-
lution.
Mr. BRYANT. The insurance companies you find will if forced to
do that, they will leave the State?
Ms. GREALY. On the guaranteed issue, yes. You must write a pol-
icy for absolutely everyone.
Ms. ROWLAND. There has been some limited experience in some
of the States with high risk pools that they havent been very high-
ly utilized, and have not really emerged as a major strategy.
I think one of the concerns though that you would want to have
is whether you are taking all of the high risk people out of the gen-
eral insurance pool. That would make insurance fairly cheap for ev-
eryone else, but it would put tremendous costs in that high risk
pool.
And so I would be quite concerned that you would be sort of
tiering our health care to where we have the highest and most ex-
pensive people in a pool that will be extremely difficult to finance.
Because what helps us finance insurance today is having the sick
in the same pool as the healthy to spread the cost over the whole
population.
Mr. BRYANT. But my experience though is that some companies
arent going to write those uninsurable high risk people.
Ms. GREALY. Thats right. I think you do need a safety valve
mechanism to deal there as long as you dont have guaranteed
issue.
Mr. BRYANT. Dr. Kellermann, do you have a comment?
Mr. KELLERMANN. I am sure our committee is going to look at
that in detail in its final report, but in fairness to the process, I

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would rather have my co-chair come back and give you that infor-
mation once we have had a chance to really go through it in a very
methodical way.
Mr. BRYANT. I am intrigued by the issue that was mentioned ear-
lier, and I think it was either Mr. Whitfield or Mr. Greens ques-
tioning about the exclusion in Federal law about legal immigrants
being treated in the community hospitals.
And so obviously they are all ending up in the emergency rooms,
and there is no limitation under COBRA provisions. You have to,
no matter who walks inlegal, illegal, whateveryou have to treat
that person or be subject to the law?
Mr. KELLERMANN. Yes, sir. We have to treat that person and
there is absolutely no mechanism to pay for that care. It is a totally
unfunded mandate. Completely.
Ms. GREALY. It is about $19 billion a year for hospitals at this
point in uncompensated care. And that is a very hidden cost, and
one that I dont think we focus on enough. Someone is paying for
that, and so if we could address and get coverage for a broader pop-
ulation, it certainly would reduced that burden.
Mr. KELLERMANN. The other half of that issue that I am very
personally quite concerned about as an emergency physician or as
hospitals have cut back on beds, and we have a shortage of nurses,
we cant get sick and injured patients, insured or uninsured, out
of the ER and up into the hospital.
I held this up a moment earlier. This was an issue of the U.S.
News and World Report earlier this fall that is titled, Crisis In the
E.R. Turnaways and Huge Delays are a Sure Fire Receipt for Dis-
aster. What You Can Do. I want to point out that the issue date
for this was September 10, and nothing has happened to change
this reality with the increasing potential now for mass casualty
events.
So as an emergency physician, irrespective of my role in the com-
mittee, I am deeply concerned about access to emergency care for
everyone in this country, insured or uninsured today.
Mr. BRYANT. Well, I thank the panel and yield back my time.
Mr. BILIRAKIS. And that is the September 10 issue?
Mr. KELLERMANN. Of U.S. News and World Report.
Mr. BILIRAKIS. I just wanted to get that into the record. Mr.
Wynn.
Mr. WYNN. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. There is a lot of talk
about insurance and standard of care, and my first question is do
you believe that Medicaid is the appropriate standard for coverage
or care, and that if we talk insurance, we ought to be talking about
policies that address that standard of care?
Ms. ROWLAND. I think there are various standards of care. I
think what we talked about a little today is that the Medicaid pop-
ulation is in fact a very diverse population, including some very
highly disabled individuals, as well as the elderly.
And so the benefit package in Medicaid is very broad to take care
of individuals at that level who would not get coverage. But I think
the basic protections in Medicaid, and the coverage for the low in-
come populations are in fact a standard that we should hold for
looking at further expansions of coverage, or insurance coverage for
the low income. Basic benefits and low cost sharing.

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Mr. WYNN. Then should we be talking about insurance policies


that provide that standard of care as a policy matter?
Ms. ROWLAND. I think we should look at insurance policies to be
comprehensive and to promote primary and preventive care, as
well as hospitalization and other care.
So I think it is important that we not just provide catastrophic
care with high deductibles.
Ms. GREALY. I think it is important that we have a variety of op-
tions. Probably a great model to look at is the Federal Employees
Health Benefit Plan, where the individual makes the decision
about what type of cost sharing that they might want to do.
We have a vast array and variety, and so I think it is hard to
say we would want a kind of one size fits all package for any exten-
sion.
Mr. WYNN. Well, I was speaking in terms of if we are paying for
it, and we are subsidizing it. The Federal Employees Health Bene-
fits Package has been described as a Cadillac of health insurance
plans.
I am not sure in the worlds of Mr. Kellermann we can afford the
most expensive car. Let me ask another question. On the benefits
side, there is a question of whether or not children can get, for ex-
ample, dental care.
In an insurance package that is being touted as accessible to the
uninsured, what are the consequences of that if you are talking
about insurance policies that dont provide dental care for young
people?
Ms. ROWLAND. Well, certainly under the Medicaid program chil-
dren, especially those covered mandatorily because of the early
periodic screening and diagnosis, and treatment program, or better
know as EPSDT, are guaranteed that for anything they are diag-
nosed for that they should be treated, and which would include
dental care.
So that that has been a very comprehensive package for children.
So when children talk about the Medicaid benefit package, they are
talking about providing any health care service that a child needs,
subject to virtually no cost sharing for those under the poverty
level.
What I think is harder is when you start looking at the sort of
expanding coverage to adults, and at higher income levels what
should be in those benefit packages. So that we really need to look
at what level can cost sharing be introduced and not be an impedi-
ment.
And at what level should some of these additional benefits, like
dental care, be included in what is a standard health insurance
plan.
Mr. WYNN. Do you have a recommendation?
Ms. ROWLAND. Well, I certainly think for the case of children, es-
pecially low income children, dental care has proven to be as im-
portant a part of their health care services as basically medical
care.
And mental health services, which are often excluded from some
of the private health insurance plans, are also a critical part of the
benefit package for many of Medicaids.
Mr. WYNN. So if we are designing a program

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Ms. ROWLAND. I think Dr. Kellermann has a comment here, too.


Mr. WYNN. I just wanted to pose this as a question. So we are
talking about insuring people in private health insurance, your ar-
gument, and dont let me state it for you, but it seems to be that
it ought to include dental care. Is that a fair summation of where
you are?
Ms. ROWLAND. I think for the low income population, especially
dental care, is very important.
Mr. KELLERMANN. And you made the comment about Cadillac
care. I would only respond and say that if the car is a beater and
you have to spend a lot of money every week to keep it on the road,
thats not necessarily a bargain either.
I will never forget a woman I took care of several years ago who
came in, a working mother who came in with a massive stroke, and
I learned as we were trying to save her life that she had stopped
taking her blood pressure medication because she felt that she
needed to pay the money to buy food for her kids.
We spent more money in a unsuccessful attempt to save her life
in the space of 2 hours in one of the leading academic medical cen-
ters in the country than it would have cost to have taken care of
her blood pressure and kept her working for the next 25 years.
That is no bargain, for her or for us.
Mr. WYNN. Okay. I think that is a good point. This issue of de-
ductibility. Is there a level at which deductibility becomes a prob-
lem and where is that?
Ms. ROWLAND. Well, the question there is at what income does
the individual start. So that if I am earning $50,000 a year, for me
a $100 deductible is not probably a problem.
But if I am earning $15,000 a year, and I have three children
to feed, and housing to pay for, a $100 deductible is really a finan-
cial barrier that I would think twice about going to get medical
care before I paid for the food or other things for my children.
So I think the issue really is that for someone who is relatively
young, and relatively healthy, insurance policies with higher
deductibles are probably okay, because they dont assume they are
going to get sick.
But we never know when we are going to get sick, and for those
at the lowest incomes we dont want people to defer care because
they cant afford to access early primary care.
Ms. GREALY. But I think that Diane makes a very important
point here, and I think that we need to not look only at the indi-
vidual, in terms of their income. But if we are looking to expand
private coverage, we also need to look at what can the employers
do.
And we dont want to put it out of their reach, as well as out of
their employees reach. So I think we really have to be again flexi-
ble, and not try to mandate that this is the only way to go, and
that is the only way you are going to get the subsidy.
Mr. WYNN. If we are talking about subsidizing employers in
order to expand an employer-based program, what would we have
to do on an average to enable them to provide care without
deductibles being a barrier, and that would include a sufficiently
comprehensive benefit package to cover dental care?

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Ms. ROWLAND. Well, I think the problem is that you have a lot
of employers who dont offer coverage today, and many of them
would argue that unless you almost fully subsidize the cost of the
insurance premium that they are not going to be able to offer cov-
erage.
And what we know from studies we do of employer coverage, is
that the average group payment rate today in the country for a pol-
icy for a family is $7,000 and for an individual, it is $3,000.
So it is going to cost a lot of money to subsidize employers di-
rectly for providing them insurance. And then we get back into
what strategy works most effectively. Some partial subsidies to em-
ployers, combined with subsidies to individuals, combined with ex-
pansions of public programs.
And that is why we are in such a mix of options, because the cost
of any one option is substantial.
Mr. WYNN. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Mr. BILIRAKIS. It is a question that if we had had a second
round, and we are not going to have one, that I wanted to really
go into. I would like to excuse this panel, but to first of all ask you
if you would be willingI know that you would beto respond in
writing to questions that the committee staff will send to you.
But I am particularly concerned about the question that Mr.
Wynn went into, the fact thatand I believe it was Ms. Grealy
that said that 8 out of 10 of the uninsured arent working families.
What can we do.
I mean, it seems like that that is something that we can maybe
grab a hold of and it certainly would go a long, long way toward
maybe solving the overall problem. So I would love to hear from
you all in writing any answers that you may have, and what do
you suggest that we might be able to do to try to get to all of those
people or a substantial number of them at least covered by their
employers.
And so having said that, unless there is anything further, we will
excuse you and thank you with much gratitude, as you have helped
an awful lot. The Chair now calls the second panel forward.
And they are Ms. Grace Marie Turner, President, of the Galen
Institute; Mr. Robert de Posada, President of the Latino Coalition;
The Honorable Thomas R. Donnelly, Junior, Board Member, of the
Coalition of Affordable Health Care Coverage; Ms. Judy Feder,
Dean of Public Policy, Georgetown University; and Mr. Alan Weil,
Center Director, Assessing the New federalism, with The Urban In-
stitute.
Thank you, ladies and gentlemen, for your willingness to be here.
We apologize for the break that we had to take because of the vote,
a very important vote. And again your written statement is a part
of the record, and we would hope that what you would do is sort
of compliment it if you would, orally. And we will start out with
Ms. Turner, President of the Galen Institute. Ms. Turner, please
proceed.

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STATEMENTS OF GRACE-MARIE TURNER, PRESIDENT, GALEN
INSTITUTE, INC.; ROBERT de POSADA, PRESIDENT, THE
LATINO COALITION; HON. THOMAS R. DONNELLY, JR.,
BOARD MEMBER, COALITION FOR AFFORDABLE HEALTH
CARE COVERAGE; JUDITH FEDER, DEAN OF PUBLIC POLICY,
GEORGETOWN UNIVERSITY; AND ALAN WEIL, CENTER DI-
RECTOR, ASSESSING THE NEW FEDERALISM, THE URBAN IN-
STITUTE
Ms. TURNER. Thank you, Mr. Chairman, and members of the
committee for inviting me to testify today. My name is Grace-Marie
Turner, and I am President of the Galen Institute, a not-for-profit
organization that focuses on health policy.
The problems of the uninsured are serious and a continuing con-
cern to us as they are to this committee as you demonstrate once
again in holding this hearing today. Thank you.
I would like to begin with a brief overview of who the uninsured
are, and why getting health insurance is so difficult for them. I am
encouraged that some new options are being considered to provide
help.
As we have heard the uninsured are primarily minorities, espe-
cially hispanics, young adults, workers who are not offered or cant
afford to buy health insurance at work for themselves or their fam-
ilies, and workers who are between jobs.
The Census Bureau finds that the uninsured are most likely to
be in families earning less than $25,000 a year, to be self-em-
ployed, and working in small companies. The likelihood of someone
having health insurance is closely tied to income, and to whether
or not their job provides health insurance.
Only one-third of those earning under 200 percent of poverty
have coverage at work, while three-quarters of those with incomes
above that level get insurance through their jobs.
Most of the uninsured make too much to qualify for public pro-
grams, and they dont have higher paying jobs that provide cov-
erage. They have fallen through the cracks of the current system.
Several options are being discussed to help them. One is expan-
sion of Medicaid. But State and Medicaid budgets are stressed to
the limit, and threatening higher taxes, benefit cuts, or cuts in
other programs.
Adding millions to the working Americans to Medicaid roles ap-
pears neither politically nor financially feasible in this climate. For
example, New Mexico has the highest uninsured rate in the coun-
try, yet the State is about $50 million short in being able to provide
coverage next year just for those who are currently on Medicaid.
What about mandates in insurance regulations? Forcing an em-
ployer to provide health coverage, especially now, would cause
many marginal businesses to lay off workers and even go under.
Insurance regulations also would likely backfire. A recent study
by E-Health Insurance shows that States with community rating
and guaranteed issue laws had premium prices that were 2 or 3
times higher than States that did not employ these market re-
forms.
Another option is to provide tangible support through a fundable,
sensible tax credits. President Bush has proposed health credits of
up to $1,000 for individuals, $3,000 for families, and the credits

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phaseout, ending in income levels of $30,000 for individuals and


$60,000 for families.
These credits would likely be target to those who are most likely
to be uninsured and least likely to have job based coverage. The
credits would be refundable so that people would get the same
amount of money, no matter how much they owed in taxes.
The Presidents plan also would be advanceable, meaning that
people would get the subsidy up front. The White House estimates
that under its proposal that 6 million of the uninsured would get
coverage.
The uninsured are getting a bad break from the tax code now,
and tax credits would help to level that playing field. Workers can
get their health insurance tax free as long as their employer writes
the check for the premium.
That means that an executive earning $100,000 gets a $2,600 tax
break for health insurance at work, while a waiter serving her
lunch, and making $1,500 a year, gets $79 a year in tax help for
the subsidies.
This is clearly a system we would have designed if we were start-
ing from scratch. A study by respected Wharton School economist
Mark Pauly says that a refundable tax credit would provide a pow-
erful incentive for the uninsured to purchase coverage.
One of his studies showed that up to two-thirds of the uninsured
would buy coverage if they received a subsidy worth just half the
value of a good policy. Pauly also found that the individual market
is stronger than it is reputed to be.
Achieving universal coverage would require a mosaic of solutions
as we have discussed all morning. Tax credits are not the answer
for everyone. Older, sicker citizens may find that they still cannot
afford or get coverage and safety net programs will continue to be
important.
But the fact that credits wont work for some people doesnt seem
to me justification for not extending this meaningful help to mil-
lions of Americans who would benefit. Others are concerned that
tax credits would damage the employment based system by drain-
ing younger, healthier, workers from their pool.
However, I would argue that most of those who have coverage at
work receive a more generous subsidy than the credits would offer,
and they would opt to stay where they are.
The administration estimates that only 15 percent of tax credit
users would previously have had employer coverage. Finally, al-
most any plan you create would have some crowd-out. The question
is do you want more people moving into government programs or
private health insurance.
In every other sector of the economy, competition forces prices
down, and quality up, and the health insurance market would be
no different. If you were to provide tax credits for the uninsured
or vouchers, the market place would respond by making more af-
fordable, more diverse, more appropriate health insurance avail-
able so that people could be deciding what coverage works for them
and their families.
That would strengthen the health insurance market place and
provide citizens with more coverage and more choices. Most impor-
tantly, tax credits tell hard working Americans who are left out of

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74

the current system that they count, too. Thank you for the oppor-
tunity to present this testimony, and I would look forward to your
questions.
[The prepared statement of Grace-Marie Turner follows:]
PREPARED STATEMENT OF GRACE-MARIE TURNER, PRESIDENT, GALEN INSTITUTE
Introduction
Thank you Mr. Chairman and members of the committee for inviting me to pro-
vide testimony today on the important issue of The Uninsured and Affordable
Health Coverage. My name is Grace-Marie Turner, and I am president of the Galen
Institute, a not-for-profit research and educational organization that focuses on
health policy.
The problems of the uninsured are of serious and continuing concern to this com-
mittee, and I commend you for holding this hearing to keep the spotlight on the im-
portance of action to address the needs of a population that is as large as it is di-
verse. I am encouraged that some new options are being considered to provide them
with help and look forward to discussing them with you today.
In my testimony today, I would like to present a very brief overview of who the
uninsured are and explain some of the key reasons that obtaining health insurance
is so difficult for them. I will briefly explore several of the options under consider-
ation to extend health coverage to the uninsured. And finally, I will describe why
I believe that providing refundable tax credits for the uninsured is the best solution
to extend meaningful, viable help to millions of uninsured Americans.
Who are the uninsured?
More than 38 million Americans were uninsured at the last official count, but the
number surely has risen during the current recession. While the numbers change,
the profile of the uninsured remains quite constant.
The uninsured are primarily: 1) minorities, especially Hispanics; 2) lower and
lower-middle income Americans; 3) young adults between ages 18 and 24; 4) work-
ers or dependents of workers who are not offered or cannot afford to purchase health
insurance through the workplace; and 5) workers who are between jobs.
The Census Bureau finds that the uninsured are most likely to be in families with
annual incomes of less than $25,000, to be self-employed or employees of small com-
panies, and/or to work in service-industry jobs, such as hotels and retail stores.
The Commonwealth Fund, a respected health coverage research organization, con-
ducted a survey between April 27 and July 29, 2001, and confirmed that family in-
come is one of the strongest predictors of being uninsured.1 The Commonwealth
Fund 2001 Health Insurance Survey found that 75 percent of the uninsured had an-
nual incomes below $35,000, while only two percent had incomes of $60,000 or more.
The likelihood of someone having health insurance is closely tied not only to high-
er income but also to whether the workers job provides health insurance. Only 36
percent of those under age 65 with incomes below 200 percent of the federal poverty
level have employment-based insurance coverage, while 77 percent of those above
do.2
The uninsured are overwhelmingly working Americans. The Kaiser Commission
reported that more than 80 percent of those who are uninsured either are working
themselves or live in families headed by a person in the workforce, 3 a finding con-
firmed by Paul Fronstin of the Employee Benefit Research Institute.
More than half (52%) of employees working in firms with fewer than 100 workers
and with earnings of under $20,000 were not offered or were ineligible for employer-
sponsored health plans.4
Small businesses with fewer than 50 workers account for 94.7 percent of busi-
nesses in the United States and employ more than 40 percent of the workforce.5
Forty percent of these small businesses do not offer health insurance coverage to

1 Lisa Duchon, et al. Security Matters: How Instability in Health Insurance Puts U.S. Workers
At Risk. Findings from the Commonwealth Fund 2001 Health Insurance Survey. New York. De-
cember, 2001.
2 White House Council of Economic Advisors. Health Insurance Tax Credits. February 14,
2002.
3 Kaiser Commission on Medicaid and the Uninsured. Health Insurance Coverage in America.
1999 Data Update. Washington, D.C., December, 2000.
4 Lisa Duchon, et al. Listening to Workers. Findings from Commonwealth Fund 1999 National
Survey of Workers Health Insurance. New York, January, 2000.
5 U.S. Bureau of the Census. 1998 County Business Pattern Data, Table 2.

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75
their workers.6 A key reason is the high cost of health insurance and the fact that
small firms lack the advantages of large companies in designing and purchasing af-
fordable health care packages.
One-quarter of uninsured workers are self-employed.7 While Congress has enacted
legislation that will provide full tax deductibility of health insurance for the self-
employed as of next year, a tax deduction is worth only as much as the individuals
tax bracket. If someone is in the 15 percent tax bracket, even full deductibility
means just a 15 percent reduction in price. For many, this is simply not enough of
a price break for them to afford coverage.
Minorities are also disproportionately likely to be uninsured. Hispanics are more
likely to be employed in blue collar jobs which are much less likely to provide health
insurance coverage, but whatever their income, Hispanics are less likely to be of-
fered job-based health coverage than non-Hispanic whites.8
Profiles of the uninsured
For most of those who are uninsured, obtaining health insurance through the tra-
ditional channel of the workplace is not an option. For example:
1) An Hispanic woman who works two jobs to feed and house her family is likely
to fall through the cracks of the U.S. system of health coverage. She makes too
much to qualify for Medicaid, is not offered health insurance through either of her
jobs, and cannot afford to purchase health insurance on her own and still meet her
other responsibilities to pay for housing, clothing, transportation, and food for her
children.
2) Lower and lower-middle income adults, such as a cab driver making $25,000
a year, are unlikely to qualify for any public or private health insurance. The cab
driver is often much more worried about a major car accident or family illness that
not only would destroy his livelihood but also his finances to pay for medical care.
But he cannot afford to purchase insurance for himself or his family and still meet
his other obligations.
3) College students and young adults working at their first job often do not place
health insurance as a top financial priority and often go without.
4) A man working as a mechanic at an automobile garage or a waiter at a res-
taurant is unlikely to be offered health insurance through his job. The owners of
the business are so busy trying to run the business and keep it afloat that orga-
nizing and paying for health insurance are too difficult and expensive. As a result,
as much as the owners may want to provide health insurance, they simply cant af-
ford it.
5) Finally, a worker who has lost his job generally loses health coverage in the
process. A federal program instituted as part COBRA (Consolidated Omnibus Budg-
et Reconciliation Act) allows workers who have left their job-based coverage to con-
tinue their insurance by paying 102% of the premium. This coverage is generally
very expensive, and only 19% of eligible employees continue COBRA coverage.9
While the workers may get another job in a few months, the four or five months
between jobs also means that he and his family likely will have no health insurance
during that time.
What is life like for the uninsured?
The uninsured are more likely to wait to get the medical care they need, putting
off tests and treatment until illnesses are at more advanced stages. They are more
likely to face difficulties in paying for the care they do get. And they live in constant
fear that they or their children will have an illness or accident and that the family
will not be able to afford needed medical care.10
Unfortunately, those who do not get their health insurance through the workplace
or who do not qualify for government programs have few options in obtaining cov-
erage. Either they purchase health insurance on their own, most often with after
tax dollars that make the policy even more expensive, or they take the risk of going
without.

6 Larry Levitt et al., Employer Health Benefits: 1999 Annual Survey, Henry J. Kaiser Family
Foundation and Health Research and Educational Trust, 1999.
7 Duchon, et al. Listening to Workers. The Commonwealth Fund.
8 Claudia Schur and Jacob Feldman, Running in Place: How job characteristics, immigrant
status, and family structure keep Hispanics Uninsured, The Commonwealth Fund. May 2001.
9 Becca Mader. Few ex-employees choose COBRA: But those who do are heavy users, study
finds. The Business Journal, November 2, 2001.
10 Connecticut Department of Public Health, Office of Policy, Planning, and Evaluation, Look-
ing toward 2000: State Health Assessment, available at http://www.state.ct.us/dph/OPPE/sha99/
uninsuredlandlunderinsuredlpopul.htm

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One of the leading causes of bankruptcies in the United States is medical bills.11
Being without health insurance is not only a problem for 38 million Americans and
counting, but also for society as a whole. Those who do not have predictable access
to medical treatment often wait until an illness becomes acute before seeking treat-
ment. Not only is the cost of treatment then generally higher, but also at least part
of the cost is more likely to be borne by the taxpayer through any of the various
channels hospitals and doctors are compensated and through higher premiums for
those with private insurance. Most importantly, the person may suffer long-term
consequences of going without needed medical treatment.
Economic pressures on these families and on society would be reduced if the unin-
sured were protected by providing options for them to obtain affordable health cov-
erage.
Medicaid expansion, more regulation, or employer mandates?
Several options are being discussed:
Public program expansion: Many policy makers are recommending expanding cov-
erage to the uninsured through Medicaid and S-CHIP. But the costs of public pro-
grams, especially Medicaid, already are consuming up to a third of state government
budgets, threatening higher taxes, benefit cuts, or reduced spending on other state
programs.12 State Medicaid budgets are stressed to the limit, and adding millions
of working Americans to their rolls appears neither politically nor financially fea-
sible.
For example, New Mexico has the highest uninsured rate in the country, yet the
state is $50 billion short in being able to finance Medicaid for current recipients in
the upcoming fiscal year.
The nations governors were in Washington just this week pleading with Wash-
ington to help them with their skyrocketing Medicaid expenses.
Expanding Medicaid to millions more working Americans would mean restricting
care to those currently on the program, especially the poor and elderly, or further
reducing payments to providers. Already, the program pays doctors so little that
many physicians say they lose money when they treat Medicaid patients.
Low Medicaid payment rates in many states already are compromising access to
care for those who have Medicaid coverage. For example, the California HealthCare
Foundation, an independent philanthropic organization, surveyed almost 1,700 phy-
sicians in the states largest urban counties, and found that only 55 percent of pri-
mary-care physicians said they treated Medi-CalCalifornia Medicaidpatients.13
Medicaid recipients often wind up waiting in long lines in hospital emergency
rooms to receive even routine care. This drives up costs of this entitlement program
even higher.
Employer mandate: Many small employers want very much to provide health in-
surance for their employees, but they are especially vulnerable to the rising cost of
health insurance. Nationwide, more than 200,000 Americans lose their coverage
every time the cost of health insurance rises by one percent, according to the Con-
gressional Budget Office. It is almost always small businesses operating closest to
the margin that are forced out of the market first. Forcing employers to offer insur-
ance is not a viable option for many marginal businesses that are struggling just
to survive, much less to provide health insurance with costs rising at double-digit
rates.
Insurance regulations: Evidence has shown that trying to force employers or
health insurers to provide coverage through mandates and regulation creates a se-
ries of unintended consequences. In 1998, the Galen Institute produced a study
based upon GAO studies that highlighted this problem. Our results showed that 16
states that had been most aggressive in regulating their health insurance markets
through guaranteed issue, community rating, and other directives, had uninsured
rates that rose eight times faster than the 34 states that were less regulatory.14
A very recent study by the on-line health insurance brokerage, e-HealthInsurance,
showed also that states that employ community rating and guaranteed issue had
premium prices that were two or three times higher than states that did not employ

11 Ian Domowitz and Robert Sartain. Determinants of the Consumer Bankruptcy Decision. Na-
tional Bureau of Economic Research. 1997.
12 Vernon Smith, and Eileen Ellis, Medicaid Budgets Under Stress: Survey Findings for State
Fiscal Years 2000, 2001, and 2002. Kaiser Commission on Medicaid and the Uninsured. October
2001.
13 Tony Fong, Nearly half of physicians shun Medi-Cal, San Diego Union-Tribune, February
15, 2002.
14 Melinda Schriver and Grace-Marie Arnett. Uninsured Rates Rise Dramatically in States
With Strictest Health Insurance Regulations. The Heritage Foundation. 1998.

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this type of insurance market reform. 15 While there are likely other factors in-
volved, the average single monthly premium in New York, for example, is $266.
California, which does not employ community rating and guarantee issue, has an
average monthly premium of $143.16
Another option: Equalize the subsidies
Another policy option is to provide the uninsured with tangible financial support
through refundable, advanceable tax credits to help them purchase private health
insurance.
The U.S. tax code provides a generous tax benefit to workers if their employer
purchases health coverage for them. This system of protecting job-based health cov-
erage from taxation has provided a powerful incentive for workers to get their
health coverage at work. But the tax benefits are skewed to favor higher-income in-
dividuals and to provide much less help to those with lower incomes. Millions of
workers simply are being left behind by this system. Tax credits would provide
meaningful help to millions of uninsured families to obtain coverage.
The employment-based system in the United States that serves approximately
175 million workers, dependents, and retirees is not an option for many uninsured
workers. Providing tax credits would be a small step to begin to give them subsidies
much like those who have job-based coverage so they can obtain their own health
insurance.
President Bush has proposed a set of incentives for the uninsured with health
credits of up to $1,000 for individuals and $3,000 for families. He proposes phasing
out the credits on a sliding income scale, with subsidies ending at $30,000 for indi-
viduals and $60,000 for families.
This system of tax credits would be targeted to those who are most likely to be
uninsured and least likely to have the option of employment-based health insurance.
The Council of Economic Advisers February 14, 2002, white paper on Health In-
surance Credits provides additional details on how the administrations credit would
be structured and administered and the anticipated market response.
The idea of providing health credits has tri-partisan backing with bills introduced
by House Majority Leader Dick Armey (R-TX) and Ways and Means Chairman Bill
Thomas (R-CA), and in the Senate by Sen. John Breaux (D-LA), Sen. James Jeffords
(I-VT), and Sen. Bill Frist (R-TN), among others.
Under virtually all of the proposals, the credits would be refundable if taxpayers
owed few or no taxes. Many, including the presidents, would also provide
advanceable tax creditsmeaning people wouldnt have to wait until they file
their taxes to get the subsidy.
How the current tax preference works
The main reason that health insurance is so tightly tied to the workplace in the
United States is the highly favorable tax treatment it receives. The system of pro-
viding health insurance through the workplace in the United States dates to early
in the 20th century.
The tax benefit to workers is provided in the form of a tax exclusion. That means
that the full value of the health insurance policy is excluded from the workers
income before federal, state, and payroll taxes are calculated. As a result, the value
of the health insurance policy and the generous tax break for health insurance are
invisible to the employee.
What workers often dont realize is that their health insurance actually is part
of their full compensation packagea form of non-cash (and non-taxable) wages.
The tax code explicitly allows the non-wage income they receive in the form of
health insurance to be free from taxation.
But workers may receive this tax-favored benefit only if their employers write the
checks for the premiums. Because of this invisible tax benefit, the value of the
health insurance policy, the tax benefit employees receive, and the cost in forgone
wages are largely invisible to workers.
In 1999, tax subsidies for job-based health insurance were worth $130 billion.17
But it is a very regressive subsidy, favoring the rich over the poor. A taxpayer earn-

15 Statement of Vip Patel, Founder and Chairman, eHealthinsurance, Inc., Sunnyvale, Cali-
fornia. Testimony before the House Committee on Ways and Means Hearing on Health Care
Tax Credits to Decrease the Number of Uninsured. February 13, 2002.
16 eHealthInsurance, Inc. The Cost and Benefits of Individual Health Insurance Plans. Janu-
ary 2002.
17 John Sheils, Paul Hogan, Randall Haught. Health Insurance and Taxes: The Impact of Pro-
posed Changes in Current Federal Policy. National Coalition on Health Care 1999.

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ing $100,000 a year or more gets an annual subsidy worth $2,638 while one earning
$15,000 gets only $79 a year in assistance toward the purchase of health insurance.
What that means is that the executive with a high-paying job gets a generous tax
subsidy for health insurance from the taxpayer while the waiter serving her lunch
gets little or no help in purchasing health insurance.
Clearly, this is not a system we would have designed if we were starting from
scratch. Instead, it has evolved as a relic of World War II wage and price controls.
An increasingly mobile society
In our increasingly mobile society, millions of Americans are constantly moving
from one job to another and, for the fortunate ones, from one job-based health plan
to another. But this job mobility is another reason that so many people lose their
health insurance when they lose or change jobs.
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, 13 million workers change their
employment status in a typical month.18 On average, that means 13 million Ameri-
cans leave home or school to enter the labor force, exit the labor force without look-
ing for new work, find new work after a spell of unemployment or search for work
after they quit or are dismissed or laid offevery month.
Tax credits would provide these workers with more stability by giving them sub-
sidies for health insurance that they could keep.
The impact
Wharton economist Mark Pauly, et al, (2001) find that a refundable tax credit
would provide a powerful incentive for the uninsured to purchase health coverage.
One study showed that 48 to 66 percent of the uninsured would buy coverage if they
received a subsidy worth half of the value of the policy. And the uptake rate in-
creases as the subsidy rises: 74 percent of the uninsured would buy a policy if they
received a credit worth 75 percent of the premium cost.19
Pauly, et al, also have studied the market for individual health insurance. They
found that the individual market appears to be improving, in both administrative
costs and protection against high premiums associated with high risk. 20
Validating their research, eHealthInsurance, the on-line health insurance broker-
age, recently pulled a sample of 20,000 individual policies sold from its database of
customers. The company found that the average individual policy cost $159 a month
and the average premium for individual and family policies purchased through the
company ranged from $1,200 to $1,900 a year per person. Eighty-seven percent of
policies purchased by individuals can be considered comprehensive. 21
The Health Policy Consensus Group, composed of experts from many market-
based think tanks and academic institutions, developed a vision statement explain-
ing why we believe that tax credits would be beneficial.22 Here are some highlights
of the statement:
Every American should be able to obtain needed medical care. Reforming the
tax treatment of health insurance is central to achieving this goal.
Congress could begin by providing a new set of incentives for people who do
not have health insurance. These incentives should be properly structured to
create an opportunity to purchase coverage in an open and competitive market.
We recommend providing credits or other comparable fixed incentives, explic-
itly determined by legislation, to assist people in obtaining private health insur-
ance.
The size of the incentives will depend on how much taxpayer money law-
makers deem to be available. It can be structured in different ways.
Options
Credits or other fixed incentives could be used to purchase private group or
individual health coverage. If credits are provided, they could be refundable.
The size of the credit or alternate financial incentive could be adjusted to re-
flect risk or need, or it could be used to buy into a high-risk pool. These adjust-
ments should be made while minimizing their effect on marginal tax rates.

18 Michael M. Weinstein, Economic Scene: Cream in Labor Markets Churn. The New York
Times, July 22, 1999.
19 Mark Pauly, and Bradley Herring. Expanding Coverage Via Tax Credits: Trade-offs and
Outcomes, Health Affairs, Jan-Feb, 2001.
20 Mark Pauly, Allison Percy, and Bradley Herring. Individual Versus Job-Based Health In-
surance: Weighing the Pros and Cons, Health Affairs, Nov/Dec, 1999.
21 Statement of Vip Patel in testimony before the House Committee on Ways and Means. Feb-
ruary 13, 2002.
22 The Health Policy Consensus Group. A Vision for Consumer-Driven Health Care Reform.
The Galen Institute 1999.

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To expand access to coverage, states could relax mandated benefit laws for
insurance purchased with federal assistance, thus allowing a broader range of
more affordable insurance products.
Benefits of this approach
Millions of Americans not eligible for the current tax subsidy would receive
help in purchasing health insurance.
Assistance can be targeted to those who do not have health insurance.
It can be targeted to those in specific age, income, or other categories which
legislators deem most worthy of the assistance.
It gives individuals more choice as to where they obtain health insurance.
It allows individuals the opportunity to select the kind of health coverage that
best suits their needs.
It helps to minimize distortions in the marketplace.
It is more equitable across income groups.
It is available whether an individuals insurance is organized through employ-
ment-based groups or elsewhere. The role of employers in assisting employees
to obtain health insurance could be maintained by each employer, if the com-
pany so desired.23
Application and benefits
Tax credits for the purchase of private health insurance would provide todays un-
insured workers and their families with financial help in purchasing coverage to
begin to equalize the subsidies that employees with job-based insurance receive.
Some have proposed only allowing the credits to be used for job-based coverage.
But for too many of the uninsured, this would continue to shut them out of the sys-
tem. Allowing the credit to be used only for job-based insurance would mean that
it would be of little or no use to an estimated 20 million Americans for whom job
based coverage is simply not an option.
If the tax credit approach is to be successful, it is imperative that those eligible
be allowed to use the credits to purchase insurance outside the workplacesuch as
through church groups, professional or trade associations, labor unions, or other
groups that citizens trust to negotiate in their best interest.
Offering tax credits to the uninsured is an important solution for many reasons.
First, by giving people tax credits, they can choose the health plan that best suits
their needs and the needs of their families.
Second, tax credits are portable. Because the subsidies for health insurance are
not tied to the workplace, people can keep their health insurance even if they lose
their jobs or dont have the option of job-based coverage.
Third, this army of newly empowered consumers will inject renewed energy into
the fragile market for privately purchased health insurance. This market has been
suffocated by state insurance regulations and mandates that have made individual
and small group health insurance policies prohibitively expensive in many states
and have driven many insurers out of the market. Tax credits would improve the
market for private health insurance by giving consumers and insurers an incentive
to strengthen the market for private health insurance.
Fourth, the cost of the insurance would be visible, and consumers would be more
motivated to shop for the best coverage for the money, reversing the current trend
for workers with job-based coverage to demand more and more insurance coverage
because the full cost of the policy and the services they consume is hidden from
them.
But most importantly, tax credits tell these hardworking Americans who are left
out of the current system that they count, too.
A step in the right direction
As this committee, this Congress, and this country have learned, achieving uni-
versal coverage will require a mosaic of solutions. Tax credits for the uninsured will
create a new system of subsidies that would be the best way, I believe, to reach mil-
lions of people who are falling through the cracks of the current system. But they
are not an answer for everyone. Older, sicker citizens may find that they still cannot
afford or get coverage, even with the credits, and safety net programs will continue
to be an important part of the solution.
But the fact that credits will not work for some people does not seem to me to
be justification for not extending this meaningful help to millions of Americans who
would benefit.

23 For further information, see. Empowering Health Care Consumers through Tax Reform,
Grace-Marie Arnett, ed, University of Michigan Press, 1999.

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Others are concerned that tax credits would damage the employment-based sys-
tem by draining younger, healthier workers from their pools. However, I would
argue that most of those who have employment-based coverage receive a more gen-
erous subsidy than the credit, and they would opt to stay where they are. Also,
many employers who offer health insurance feel strongly their obligation to their
employees and would find ways to encourage them to stay with the company plan.
And if many of the newly insured purchasing coverage with the tax credit are in-
deed healthier, their expenses are likely to be lower, and they will help reduce pre-
miums for everyone in the pool.
Finally, the health insurance market is showing its ability to respond to changing
demands by creating new options, like eHealthInsurance, for the uninsured to ob-
tain affordable coverage on their own. If billions of dollars in subsidies were avail-
able to millions more workers, the market would be transformed to provide many
more options than are available today.
In every other sector of the economy, competition forces prices down and quality
up, and health insurance is no different.24 If the federal government were to provide
tax credits for the uninsured, the marketplace would respond by making more af-
fordable, more diverse, more appropriate health insurance available. That would
strengthen the health insurance market and would provide citizens with more
choices for coverage. If state governments were to provide complementary tax incen-
tives, they could expand health coverage to even more uninsured citizens.
Refundable tax credits would encourage the marketplace to be more responsive
to their demands. Further, it takes an important step toward a system that provides
health coverage for all and which still provides the freedom for the health care in-
dustry to innovate so it can continue to provide the worlds best medical care.
Thank you for the opportunity to present this testimony. I would be happy to an-
swer any questions you may have and to provide additional information.
Mr. BILIRAKIS. Thank you very much, Ms. Turner. Lets see. Mr.
Robert de Posada, President of the Latino Coalition.
Mr. Posada, please proceed.

STATEMENT OF ROBERT DE POSADA


Mr. POSADA. Thank you, Mr. Chairman, and thank you, Mr.
Brown, and members of the committee, my name is Robert de Po-
sada, and I am the President of the Latino Coalition, which was
created in 1995 to address those issues that directly affect the well-
being of hispanics in the U.S.
Some of our members include the Inner-American College of Phy-
sicians and Surgeons, and the Hispanic Business Roundtable,
among others. When it comes to health insurance according to the
U.S. Census Bureau, the highest uninsured rate in the U.S. is
among people of hispanic origin.
Over one-third of hispanics were uninsured, compared to only 12
percent for non-hispanic whites. Foreign born immigrants are even
worse, with more than half without health insurance.
The main reason why so many hispanics do not have health in-
surance is that generally they have lower incomes and they work
for smaller firms than in the service industry. Employment and in-
come levels are the leading indicators of health insurance coverage
in this country, and the lower the income, the more likely that the
worker will not have coverage.
We have held health care conferences all around the country to
try to figure out what can we do to address this crisis, and we have
come to the conclusion that no one has all the answers like every-
body has said here.
24 Hixson, Jesse. Six-Questions Everyone Should Ask about Health System Reform: An Applica-
tion of Basic Economics, Galen Institute, March, 2002.

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It will take several different ideas, which together if enacted, will


help address this crisis. However, we strongly believe that we must
focus our resources on the working poor. We call them the too poor,
but not poor enough; too poor to afford health insurance, yet not
poor enough to qualify for Medicaid.
And these are predominantly low income workers who do not
have access to health insurance through their employer. Thats why
we strongly believe that the most important issue that this Con-
gress can take at this session is to pass a refundable tax credit to
help workers who do not get insurance from their jobs.
And adding additional provisions to help reduce prices and pro-
mote a real outreach to undeserved communities. But as Mark
Twain said, get your facts first, and then you can distort them as
you please.
Instead of trying to make good ideas even better, opponents of
a refundable tax credit will just say about anything to shoot this
idea down. The fact is that in most of the concerns addressed by
these opponents are already addressed by the leading tax credit
legislation sponsored by Congressman Armey and Congressman Li-
pinski.
For instance, tightened policies wont reach low income workers.
Most hispanic groups in this country or around the country, includ-
ing the League of United Latin Americans, have come to the con-
clusion that the past expansions of Medicaid and CHIP did little
to reduce the number of uninsured hispanics.
The fact is that these programs have failed to reach the
undeserved and uninsured in our communities. Even during boon
economic times there has been no real incentive for State workers
to go out to these undeserved communities to expand these pro-
grams.
And we know because we have been there at the State level
fighting these cuts in services to Medicaid even during this boon
economic period. We believe the tax credit will help address the sit-
uation because with a well crafted refundable tax credit, most in-
surance companies will develop special products to reach out to
these new markets as potentially new clients.
Also, something like the Shadegg-Lipinski bill from last year,
which established individual membership associations, would allow
community-based groups, churches, and other associations to offer
mandates of free health insurance coverage to their friends and
members.
And having community-based organizations and churches di-
rectly involved in the outreach process will be the most effective
way to reach out to low income and undeserved families.
Tax credits offer too few dollars. Well, a quick surge into some
of the health insurance costs in the District of some of the mem-
bers here today shows that people can find health insurance for a
married couple with two children for less than the amount avail-
able in the tax credit.
Let me give you an example. In Leery, Ohio, for $1,800, you can
get a PPO with a $1,000 deductible. In L.A., for $2,600, you can
get a PPO with a $500 deductible.
In Springdale, Maryland, for $2,300, with a $1,000 deductible,
and the list goes on for insurance available for the amount of the

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82

credit. To go even further, the individual members of the associa-


tion would help low income workers pull together and get mandate
free insurance at much lower prices.
And next these employers will decide to drop their coverage offer-
ing. Well, in our conversation with small business owners from
across the country, we do not expect this massive drop out.
However, we do believe that any kind of tax credit legislation
should include provisions to make sure that this doesnt happen.
There has been talk about including provisions that employers who
drop health insurance for their employees will lose their health in-
surance deduction retroactively to the date that the tax credit be-
comes available, and maybe this is the answer.
I believe that a well-crafted bill that is refundable will be a great
boost to addressing this crisis. There is not a single magic bullet
that will solve this crisis. It will take several different approaches,
and we hope that rather than shooting down ideas, we can work
together to implement tax credits, strengthen access to Medicaid
and CHIP, promote pooling among individuals and associations, ex-
pand our community health centers, and make sure that we en-
courage more businesses to offer health insurance for their work-
ers.
We are ready to help this committee achieving these goals and
thank you very much for inviting me here again and for your com-
mitment to this issue.
[The prepared statement of Robert de Posada follows:]
PREPARED STATEMENT OF ROBERT GARCIA DE POSADA, PRESIDENT, THE LATINO
COALITION
My name is Robert Garcia de Posada and I am the President of The Latino Coali-
tion. The Latino Coalition was established in 1995 to address policy issues that di-
rectly affect the well-being of Hispanics in the U.S. The Coalitions agenda is to de-
velop and promote policies that will enhance overall business, economic and social
development of Hispanics.
When it comes to health insurance, according to the U.S. Census Bureau, the
highest uninsured rate in the U.S. is among people of Hispanic origin. Over one
third, or 34.2% of Hispanics were uninsured compared with only 12% for non-His-
panic whites. U.S. Hispanics also have the largest percentage of the working unin-
sured at 37.9% compared to only 14.9% for non-Hispanic whites. Foreign-born immi-
grants were even worse off with more than half without health insurance. According
to the Commonwealth Fund, in small- to medium-sized companies with fewer than
100 workers, 63 percent of white workers have health benefits compared with 38
percent of Hispanic workers.
There is a strong relationship between un-insurance and the kind of employment
a person has. The reason is simple: Most Americans get their health insurance
through their place of work. Moreover, in getting their health insurance through the
workplace, they are also eligible to get large and, under current law, unlimited fed-
eral tax breaks for the purchase of health insurance. There is no such tax relief for
workers who get health insurance outside the workplace or for workers and their
families who cannot get employer-based health insurance.
Today, 65 percent of the uninsured are in working families where the bread-
winner works full time. Because Hispanic workers are heavily concentrated in the
service industry and in small businessesworking for firms that do not or cannot
offer them health insurance coveragethey are disproportionately found outside of
the normal channels of health insurance in the United States.
People who are working should not be discriminated against by the federal tax
code in their purchase of health insurance simply because they buy a policy outside
of their place of employment. There is a better policy. The best option to expand
health insurance for Hispanic workers is to give them direct tax relief, either in the
form of tax credits, if they are paying taxes, or vouchersin effect, refundable tax
creditsif they do not have taxable income. This will establish equity in the tax
code and the health insurance market, reduce the need for these families to depend

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83
on government insurance programs like Medicaid or other forms of public assist-
ance, expand health insurance coverage, and mainstream millions of uninsured His-
panic workers into Americas private insurance market.
The health insurance market in the United States is uniquely job based. All
Americans, both employers and employees, get tax relief if and only if they get their
health insurance coverage through their place of employment. If the employer offers
health insurance, the employer gets unlimited tax relief in the form of a tax deduc-
tion as part of the cost of doing business. Likewise, under this arrangement, employ-
ees also get unlimited tax relief for purchasing health insurance through their em-
ployer. But, instead of a tax deduction, an employee gets what is technically called
a tax exclusion on the value of the jobs health benefits. If an employee does not
get his health insurance through the place of work, he gets little or no tax relief;
indeed, the federal tax code punishes workers who buy health insurance outside the
workplace by making that worker buy health benefits with after-tax dollars. For
most workers, this cost is a huge disincentive for obtaining health insurance on
their own.
The main reasons so many Hispanics do not have health insurance are they gen-
erally have lower incomes and they work for smaller firms. Employment and income
level are the leading indicators of health insurance coverage in this country. The
lower the income, the more likely a worker will not have coverage. If they are work-
ing independently or with a firm that does not provide health insurance, they sim-
ply do not have coverage because they cannot afford it. Small firms with fewer than
25 employees are the least likely to provide employment-based health insurance.
Based on the 1990 Census, odds are that Hispanic workerswith a per capita in-
come of only $10,773 and a solid majority employed by small businesses, particu-
larly the service industrywill not be offered health insurance at the workplace and
will not be able to afford it on their own.
If a worker is employed by a large corporation, the chances are that both the ben-
efits package and the tax benefits are very generous. However, if a worker is
middle- or low-income and is employed by a smaller company, the tax benefits are
less generous. Low-skilled workers often do not work for large companies or com-
mand a wage that enables them to buy health insurance, and they get little if any
government assistance in purchasing it. If a worker decides to purchase individual
policies, they will soon realize it is prohibitively expensive. This is the problem fac-
ing Americas working poor.1At The Latino Coalition, we strongly support policies
to promote equality and equity between employer-based health insurance coverage
and consumer-based coverage. We are here to call on Congress to end the discrimi-
nation that exists against people who buy health insurance outside the place of busi-
ness.
Most Americans are personally familiar with such cases. But, for purposes of illus-
tration, consider Martha Sanchez, a single mother of two in Miami. Martha works
as a receptionist for a small law firm, earning approximately $10 per hour. Her em-
ployer does not provide health insurance, and she cannot afford to buy an individual
health insurance policy.
This is the case for many Hispanic workers. They are not poor enough to qualify
for Medicaid, but are too poor to afford private health insurance. In addition, there
is a high degree of mobility in the Hispanic workforce. And, as noted, the current
system of employment-based health insurance is simply leaving too many working
people who have families and are willing to work without affordable insurance.
There is another angle to all of this, one that never crossed our minds until we
read the results of a recent study commissioned by Consejo de Latinos Unidos. This
study found that public and private hospitals are taking advantage of self-paying
uninsured Latinos throughout the Greater Los Angeles area. After a careful anal-
ysis of their hospital bills, the study found that these uninsured group was being
charged almost five times the amount that hospitals would charge health mainte-
nance organizations (HMO). When you read the testimonials and the findings of this
study, you truly understand why groups like our have focused most of our efforts
in trying to address the uninsured crisis in this country, and particularly in the
Latino community.
So what can Congress do to help someone like Ms. Sanchez get health insurance?
First, enhance tax incentives for individuals without access to employer-sponsored
coverage. You can enact refundable tax credits or vouchers to help low-income work-
ers purchase health insurance. In order to make these tax credits truly accessible
to low-income workers and small businesses, we believe that these tax breaks could
be blended into the withholding system. In other words, allow the worker to with-
hold the cost of health insurance from the payroll tax, in order to afford insurance.
We should also offer employers the authority to pay this premium if they wish. We
salute President Bush and the bipartisan group of senators and representatives who

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have signed on to support refundable tax credits for the uninsured. This is without
a doubt the most important initiative that Congress can undertake if they seriously
want to improve access to affordable health insurance.
Second, Congress should support the Presidents initiative to expand our Commu-
nity Health Centers. These centers are in many cases the first line of defense for
many uninsured Latinos across the country. However, while we expand the network
of community health centers, we should also develop a stronger public education
campaign to promote the existence of these centers, particularly in underserved
communities.
Third, Congress can equalize the tax laws so that associations and community-
based organizations have the same tax breaks as large businesses, when they provide
health insurance. This would promote a more community-based insurance system
that would have a better understanding of the community they serve. Dont forget
that health patterns in our population are not the same. For instance, in the U.S.
Hispanic community, there is an instance of diabetes, three times the level of the
population at large. Having organizations and doctors who understand these dif-
ferences are critical to provide cost-effective services to their customers.
Last year we strongly supported the bipartisan efforts of Congressmen Lipinski
and Shadegg to permit Individual Membership Associations to offer mandate-free
health insurance (H.R. 4119). This effort would allow community-based groups,
churches and advocacy organizations to offer individual health insurance to its
members. This legislations required that these IMAs offer at least two health insur-
ance choices to its members, including one that is mandate-free. According to the
Council for Affordable Health Insurance, we can expect a reduction in price of ap-
proximately 20-25% with this initiative. But aside from the reduction in cost, what
makes this plan so attractive is the ability of community-based groups and churches
to reach out to underserved communities in a much more effective way than current
government health programs.
Fourth, Congress should eliminate the obstacles to pooling. This will help promote
more affordable, accessible and accountable coverage for consumers. The Latino Coa-
lition strongly supports Association Health Plans, as a way to reduce the cost of
health insurance and offer small business a mechanism to pool together to increase
their bargaining power.
Fifth, Congress should allocate additional funds for Medicaid programs in states
that have been disproportionately affected by the current recession. We salute the ef-
forts by Congressmen Brown and King to increase Medicaid spending. We would en-
courage Representatives Brown and King to include provisions in their bill to guar-
antee that doctors have the necessary flexibility to take the best care of their Med-
icaid patients, particularly in the area of prescription drugs.
However, we oppose current legislative efforts to expand Medicaid as a main tool
to address the uninsured crisis. For the past three years, The Latino Coalition has
been battling severe cuts in Medicaid services at State legislatures across the coun-
try. At a time when most states are gutting the services available to Medicaid pa-
tients, it would not be financially responsible to add millions of new patients into
this program. This would make the program less stable financially and would force
more severe restrictions on much needed services for our most vulnerable citizens.
Sixth, Policymakers must make health insurance affordable for people who cant
qualify for health insurance because they have a preexisting condition. The Latino
Coalition believes sick people cannot be left out of the worlds greatest health care
system and must have access to affordable health insurance.
Yet, there are only two ways to provide coverage to uninsurable individuals: (1)
guaranteed issue or (2) health insurance safety nets. One works, the other doesnt.
Guaranteed issue. Guaranteed issue means that anyone can get health insurance
at anytime regardless of their health condition. This means that people can ac-
tually wait until they are sick before they buy health insurance, giving people
an incentive to opt out of the health insurance pool. When people opt out and
are guaranteed coverage at any point, rates escalate in an actuarial death spi-
ral. This is what happened in New Jersey after the state legislature enacted
guaranteed issue. According to the New Jersey Department of Insurance, family
rates for a $500 deductible plan now range from $3,170 a month to $17,550 a
month!
Guaranteed issue has not succeeded in making rates affordable for families,
especially those who need access to our health care system.
High Risk Pools. Health Insurance Safety Nets, or high risk pools as some refer
to them, are the best and most affordable way to provide coverage for individ-
uals who are otherwise uninsurable. A Health Insurance Safety Net is a special
state-based, privately funded comprehensive health insurance plan. Currently,
29 states have safety net plans, and approximately 127,000 people were covered

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by these plans last year. The way they work is pretty simple: The enrollees pay
a premium, and these premiums are usually capped so the enrollee has price
protection. To help fund the safety net plan, the state usually assesses insur-
ance companies based on the amount of business they conduct in that state.
On February 14, Republicans and Democrats voted to send $120 million to
the states to help existing safety nets plans and to establish one in those states
that currently do not have one. The Latino Coalition supports that initiative
and applauds those members of Congress who voted to help sick people get af-
fordable health insurance.
Seventh, Congress can promote changes in our tax laws to help low-income workers
and small businesses have access to affordable heath insurance. For example,
Small businesses could get a tax credit that could be phased-in beginning with
the smallest firms of fewer than 10 employees;
Individual purchasers of health insurance and the self-employed should be able
to fully deduct the cost of premiums;
Employee contributions for health insurance should not be considered taxable in-
come: and,
Tax credits should be made available for risk pools sponsored by the private in-
dustry.
Finally, we cannot ignore the fact that reducing regulatory burden and govern-
ment mandates, reforming liability laws, and promoting personal responsibility are
also key components of any solution to this problem.
Access to affordable heath insurance is a problem that disproportionately affects
the U.S. Hispanic community. The Latino Coalition strongly commends this com-
mittee for addressing this issue, and we look forward to working with you to break
down the barriers and build the necessary bridges to improve the access to afford-
able health coverage for the uninsured.
Thank you.
Mr. BILIRAKIS. Thank you very much, sir.
Mr. Donnelly, please proceed.

STATEMENT OF HON. THOMAS R. DONNELLY, JR.


Mr. DONNELLY. Mr. Chairman, and Congressman Brown, thank
you very much for the opportunity to be with you. I hope that my
voice holds out today, but thank god for microphones.
I also want to associate myself with your remarks regarding Dr.
Eisenberg, a dear friend, and someone with whom we have worked
on patient safety. We thank you for this opportunity to show with
you today our ideas about solutions for the growing problem of the
uninsured.
The Coalition for Affordable Health Coverage is a broad based
group that came together because of a strong common desire to ad-
dress the issue of the uninsured. Our members include physician
groups, like the AMA, business groups, the insurance carriers, and
insurance brokers, consumer groups, and others who believe that
affordability of coverage is a basic component of access to health
care.
The focus of my testimony today will be on why we believe that
the implementation of market oriented efforts, including tax cred-
its, will make health insurance more accessible and more afford-
able to a significant portion of the uninsured.
Mr. Chairman, we start from the premise that it is critical for
as many as possible of the uninsured to be covered for their health
care. We are convinced that this is best accomplished by enhanced
access to the private health insurance marketplace.
In the private marketplace, individuals and families can evaluate
their variety of options available to them and decide what is best
for their personal and unique needs. Additionally, without in-

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creased private sector payments for health care, the cost of both
health care and health insurance will continue to escalate.
If we increase public payment for health services by relying on
Medicaid expansion as the primary solution for the uninsured,
costs shifting to the private sector will only continue to push the
cost of private coverage higher.
Further, new private sector options for the uninsured would en-
courage more healthy individuals to apply for coverage, and which
will lower health insurance costs for everyone.
One of the solutions that will help the uninsured who pay income
taxes, afford private health insurance coverage, is increased de-
ductibility for health insurance premiums.
Therefore, other individuals who have no tax liability, the re-
fundable, advanceable tax credit we have discussed will provide
better assistance with monthly health insurance premiums when
they are due, and directly to the insurance companies.
It will also reduce adverse selection to COBRA, and State con-
tinuation plans by providing funding so that all terminating em-
ployees would have the incentive to continue coverage, and not just
those with serious health conditions.
Now, opponents of insurance tax credits claim that current
health credit proposals provide too little cost assistance relative to
the premium. I am reminded of Mr. Greens comments, and I would
love to engage you on that when the time comes.
Research reveals, however, that a credit in the range of $1,000
for individuals, and $2,000 to $3,000 for families contained in sev-
eral of the bipartisan proposals in the House and in the Senate,
provide significant financial assistance toward the purchase of pri-
vate health insurance coverage without creating an incentive for
employers to stop providing coverage for their employees.
Their exists a robust individual market that offers a variety of
policy coverage options in many States, and most people can find
a policy suitable for their needs. Contrary to the analysis that ac-
companied it, a recent Kaiser Family Foundation report actually
showed that 6 out of 7 individuals in less than perfect health were
able to obtain health insurance in every one of the geographic mar-
kets tested.
Further analysis of the markets compared in the Kaiser study re-
veals that costs for the policies in more highly regulated States
with guaranteed issue requirements and community rating were
significantly higher than in other States for most of the Kaiser ap-
plicants.
Additionally, experience at the State level with guaranteed issue
and community rating reveals that several States that had pre-
viously mandated guaranteed issue in the individual market have
since repealed it.
I believe that Mr. Whitfield spoke about Kentucky, and now pro-
vide access to health insurance for people with serious or chronic
health conditions through high risk pools.
These States found that the cost and availability of health insur-
ance coverage in the individual market was severely restricted by
guaranteed issue requirements.
A refundable health insurance tax credit would help eligible indi-
viduals afford the cost of health insurance coverage in high risk

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pools in the same way it would be used for those to purchase cov-
erage through regular individual health insurance markets.
So for this reason, we are very encouraged by the recent action
of the House to provide Federal funding to help States with costs
associated with high risk pools. Funding of this type should be a
high priority for Congress to ensure that everyone has access to
health insurance coverage, and will provide much more stability for
existing health insurance markets than costly new guaranteed
issue requirements.
Mr. Chairman, I should also mention that a number of members
of our coalition are very concerned about the large number of unin-
sured people who have access to employer sponsored coverage, but
are unable to afford their share of the employer sponsored pre-
miums.
A health insurance tax credit designed to be used either to buy
coverage in the individual health insurance markets, or to help a
low income employee pay his or her share of the premiums would
address this concern.
To keep the issue in perspective, we should remember that indi-
viduals without employer sponsored health insurance currently
must purchase coverage in the individual health market entirely on
their own.
This is particularly hard for low-income employees who may have
to decide between health insurance and groceries, and tax credits
should be considered a base from which to build on the financing
of health insurance coverage.
It is not designed to take away the role of the employer in the
financing of health insurance coverage, or to replace personal re-
sponsibility. The Coalition of Affordable Health Coverage believes
that it will take these and other creative solutions to achieve af-
fordable health insurance coverage for uninsured Americans.
We are pleased that the Congress and the administration are ag-
gressively addressing the problem of the uninsured and believe it
is important to take action now on this very important issue. Con-
gress should not go home having done nothing because it decided
to wait until it could do everything.
I appreciate this opportunity to testify, and I would be delighted
to answer any of your questions.
[The prepared statement of Hon. Thomas R. Donnelly, Jr. fol-
lows:]
PREPARED STATEMENT OF HON. THOMAS R. DONNELLY, JR., REPRESENTING THE
COALITION FOR AFFORDABLE HEALTH COVERAGE
Mr. Chairman, Congressman Brown, and distinguished members of the com-
mittee, we thank you for this opportunity to share with you today our ideas about
solutions for the growing problem of the uninsured. The Coalition for Affordable
Health Coverage is a broad-based coalition that came together because of a strong
common desire to address the issue of the uninsured by increasing access to private
sector health insurance options. Our members include physician groups, business
groups, insurance carriers, insurance brokers, consumer groups and others who be-
lieve that affordability of coverage is the most basic component of access to health
care. We believe this Committee, and this Congress, have a unique opportunity to
take action to significantly reduce the number of the uninsured, and we hope to
serve as a resource to you in your efforts to do so.
The members of our Coalition believe, as has been expertly demonstrated, that
the number of Americans lacking health insurance is simply too high. As has also
been demonstrated, these Americans are often uninsured for different reasons. Con-

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sequently, our members believe that a variety of approaches will be necessary in
order to address these different causes. The focus of my testimony today will be on
why we believe, based on how the marketplace works and the characteristics of
those who are uninsured, that the implementation of tax credits and other market-
oriented efforts will make health insurance more accessible and affordable to a sig-
nificant portion of the uninsured.
Mr. Chairman, we start from the premise that it is critical for as many as possible
of the uninsured to be provided with access to the private health insurance market-
place. The private marketplace allows individuals and families to evaluate the vari-
ety of options available to them and decide what is best for their personal and
unique needs. Additionally, without increased private sector payment for health
care, the cost of both health care and health insurance will continue to escalate.
Providers faced with increasing numbers of Medicaid patients must address the
issue of losses from low Medicaid reimbursements, and they do this by cost shifting
to private payers. If we rely on Medicaid expansion as the primary solution for de-
creasing the number of uninsured, we will increase the percentage of public pay-
ment for health services. The cost shifting that occurs as a result will only push the
cost of private coverage higher, and eventually will drive some providers out of busi-
ness. Bringing newly insured people into the system through the private sector
greatly reduces cost shifting. Further, private sector options for the uninsured will
encourage healthy individuals to apply for coverage, which will decrease the losses
experienced by health insurance pools in both the group and individual health in-
surance markets. This will lower health insurance costs for everyone that is insured.
Over half of the 40 million uninsured Americans are the working poor or near
poor. These workers may work one or more part time jobs but not enough hours
at any one job to qualify for health insurance benefits, or they may be seasonal or
temporary and move from one employer to another. Still other low or moderate
wage workers work for employers who dont offer coverage at all, regardless of em-
ployment status. Some have access to an employer-sponsored plan, but are unable
to afford their share of the premium, or have employer-paid coverage for themselves
but are unable to afford dependent coverage for their families. The problem in all
of these situations boils down to one thingaffordability. Although individual or
group coverage may be available, it is beyond their reach due to their inability to
pay for it.
One of the solutions that will help the uninsured pay for private health insurance
coverage is increased deductibility of health plan premiums. Increasing health in-
surance premium deductibility for people who owe income taxes puts coverage for
those who dont have employer based coverage available on the same par with those
who obtain their coverage through an employer-sponsored plan. However, deduct-
ibility does nothing for the many working poor who have no or very low tax liability.
People with no tax liability dont benefit from a deduction because they dont owe
taxes to start with, and more important, because a deduction is only available at
the end of the year. Financial assistance that is only available at the end of the
year is of no value to the low-income uninsured because without advance payment,
they are unable to pay their monthly premiums when they are due. They cant wait
a year to be reimbursed, so they remain uninsured.
For these individuals, a refundable, advanceable tax credit would provide assist-
ance with health insurance premiums monthly, when their premiums are due. This
type of credit, advanced monthly and administered through the insurance company,
would be available when needed and would be difficult to abuse, since the insurance
company would certify that coverage was purchased. It would also reduce adverse
selection in COBRA and state continuation plans by providing funding so that all
terminating employees would have the incentive to continue coverage, not just those
with serious health conditions.
Opponents of health insurance tax credits claim that current health credit pro-
posals such as the one proposed by the Bush administration provide too little cost
assistance relative to the premium. Research reveals, however, that a credit in the
range of $1,000 for individuals and $2,000-$3,000 for families provides significant
financial assistance towards the purchase of private health insurance coverage with-
out creating an incentive for employers to stop providing coverage for their employ-
ees.1
The individual market offers a variety of policy coverage options in many states
for individuals who dont have access to employer-sponsored coverage. Policies are

1 To get an idea what is available in the individual health insurance market, see Individual
Health Insurance Coverage Options Across the United States, March 2001, National Associa-
tion of Health Underwriters, or The Cost and Benefits of Individual Health Insurance Plans
eHealthInsurance.com.

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available in a wide range of deductibles and plan types, and most people can find
a policy suitable for their needs. Contrary to the analysis that accompanied it, a re-
cent Kaiser Family Foundation report showed that six out of seven individuals in
less than perfect health were able to obtain health insurance in every one of the
geographic markets tested.
Further analysis of the markets compared in the Kaiser study reveals some inter-
esting facts that should be carefully considered if any new market mandates such
as guaranteed issue accompany financial assistance for the uninsured. Costs for
policies in more highly regulated states with guaranteed issue requirements and
community rating were significantly higher than in other states for most of the Kai-
ser applicants.
Additionally, experience at the state level with guaranteed issue and community
rating reveals that several states 2 that had previously mandated guaranteed issue
on the individual market have since repealed it and now provide access to health
insurance for people with serious or chronic health conditions through high-risk
pools. These states found that the cost and availability of health insurance coverage
in the individual market was severely restricted by guaranteed issue requirements.
For example, Washington States guaranteed issue requirements resulted in such a
high level of losses that all individual health insurance carriers in the state left the
market. New Hampshire barely avoided this same fate by repealing their guaran-
teed issue coverage during their last state legislative session and instituting a high
risk pool for individuals with serious or chronic health conditions.
Twenty-eight states now have high-risk pools to provide access to health insur-
ance if a person does not qualify for coverage based on his or her medical history.
Many of these states also use their high-risk pools to provide access to health insur-
ance coverage for HIPAA eligible individuals. Other states use mechanisms such
open enrollment or a special category of guaranteed coverage through one or more
carriers to ensure that coverage is available. High-risk pools provide the most af-
fordable alternative for high-risk individuals who dont have access to employer-
sponsored coverage.
A refundable health insurance tax credit could help eligible high-risk individuals
afford the cost of health insurance coverage in high-risk pools in the same way it
would be used for those who purchase coverage through the regular individual
health insurance market. States without high-risk pools should be encouraged and
provided with incentives to develop programs to ensure that coverage is available
for high-risk individuals. For this reason, were very encouraged by the recent action
of the House to provide funding to help states with the costs associated with high-
risk pools. Funding of this type should be a high priority for Congress to ensure that
everyone has access to health insurance coverage, and provides much more stability
for existing health insurance markets than costly new guaranteed issue require-
ments.
It is important in this analysis to include a discussion of health insurance tax
credits that could be used in an employer-sponsored plan. A number of members of
our coalition are very concerned about the twenty percent of the uninsured who
have access to employer sponsored coverage but are unable to afford their share of
employer-sponsored premiums. A health insurance tax credit designed to be used ei-
ther to buy coverage in the individual health insurance market or to help a low-
income employee pay his or her share of premiums would address this concern. Al-
lowing low-income employees to supplement their employers contributions with a
refundable tax credit would allow families to be insured together, which many em-
ployees prefer, and would provide the funds necessary to allow them to come up
with their share of health insurance premiums. It would also address concerns
from the business community over declining participation in their plans, and would
empower individuals to select their own place of purchase, rather than having it im-
posed on them by the government.
One final note relative to the adequacy of current health insurance tax credit pro-
posals is that individuals without employer-sponsored health insurance currently
must purchase coverage in the individual health insurance market entirely on their
own. This is particularly hard for low-income employees, who may have to choose
between health insurance and groceries. Even employees who have employer-spon-
sored coverage available may not be able to participate because they cant afford
their share of the premiums. A health tax credit should be considered a base from
which to build on the financing of health insurance coverage. It is not designed to
take away the role of the employer in the financing of health insurance coverage,
or to replace personal responsibility.

2 Kentucky, Washington, and New Hampshire

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A third part of the umbrella of solutions for the uninsured is the more flexible
use of Medicaid and Childrens Health Insurance dollars in private sector plans. We
are greatly encouraged by the development of the new HIFA waivers, and have ob-
served a high level of activity at the state level concerning new applications for
these waivers. Used appropriately, we foresee the ability of many currently unin-
sured individuals and their children to be insured under one employer plan or
through other private sector options using already available budget dollars.
The Coalition for Affordable Health Coverage believes that it will take these and
other creative solutions to achieve affordable health insurance coverage for unin-
sured Americans. We are pleased that Congress and the Administration are aggres-
sively addressing the problem of the uninsured, and believe it is important to take
action now on this very important issue. Congress should not go home having done
nothing because it decided to wait until it could do everything.
I appreciate this opportunity to testify today and would be happy to answer any
questions the committee may have.
Mr. BILIRAKIS. Thank you very much, Mr. Donnelly.
Ms. Feder.
STATEMENT OF JUDITH FEDER
Ms. FEDER. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. Mr. Chairman, and mem-
bers of the committee, it is a pleasure to be with you today to dis-
cuss this critical issue of expanding health insurance coverage.
Tax credits and public program expansions are the alternative
strategies currently on the table for addressing this problem. My
testimony addresses a number of the issues that arise with respect
to both tax credits and public programs.
But I want to focus your attention on the results of some work
that is in progress for the Kaiser Family Foundation that compares
the impact of the two approaches. If you have the testimony, then
focusing on the charts at the end will help you follow my remarks.
I want to focus in particular on two strategies that we have
talked about a lot already this morning, two particular policies.
One is a refundable tax credit for non-group coverage for $1,000 for
individuals, and $2,000 for families.
And the other is a Medicaid or CHIP expansion to parents and
any currently ineligible children with incomes up to twice the Fed-
eral poverty level, about $39,000 for a family of three.
Under this option, the States would be required to extend cov-
erage to the maximum eligibility level. I want to talk to you about
the impacts of those two policies, and if you are following the fig-
ures, you can see in the first one that it shows pretty much the bot-
tom line in terms of impact of the two policies, the number of peo-
ple who get benefits, and the number of individuals who are newly
insured.
The tax credit provides benefits to a very large number of people,
about 10.6 million people, but its impact on new insurance cov-
erage is far smaller, about 1.6 million people. And let me clarify
just so you will understand different numbers, I am talking about
the people who are covered at a point in time, just as we talk about
40 million uninsured.
This is the same kind of number as that 40 million, and it is dif-
ferent from the number of people who gain coverage over a year,
which is what the administration is reporting with respect to its
proposal. So 1.6 million people with gaining insurance coverage on
net with the tax credit approach.
By contrast the public program expansion to parents would reach
a smaller number of recipients, 5.4 million people, but would have

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a bigger impact on the number of people who newly have insur-


ance, 3.8 million people, as compared with 1.6 million under the
tax credit.
If you look at the next chart, it tells us something about the peo-
ple who have benefits, who gain benefits under these two ap-
proaches.
Looking first at income in figure two, about 30 percent of the
people who get the tax credit have incomes above twice the Federal
poverty level; whereas, all the public program benefits are targeted
to people with incomes in this range.
An even greater contrast is apparent in Figure Number 3, which
shows that 70 percent, the vast majority of the tax credit recipi-
ents, already have health insurance. Only a minority of the recipi-
ents are uninsured.
By contrast under the public program the results are flipped; 70
percent of the public program recipients are uninsured before a
program goes into effect. Figure 4 looks at and compares these two
program approaches in terms of impact from another perspective.
The share of the uninsured population that receives benefits
from the new program. The tax program makes a lot of people eli-
gible, close to 40 million people. Whereas, the public program ex-
pansion on parents is focused on parents and low income parents,
and it reaches or is estimated to make about 7.6 million people
newly eligible.
However, a far larger portion of the eligible uninsured population
participates in the public program expansion than in the tax credit,
and these estimates are based on experience to date both with re-
spect to tax credits, and public programs.
Over half of the parents who are the target of the public program
expansion participate. Whereas, with the tax credit, we see only 8
percent of the newly eligible population participating.
That reflects the fact that the tax credit with its limited dollars
is as some people have described it offering a 10 foot rope to people
in a 40 foot hole.
By reaching a larger proportion of a smaller pool of eligibles the
public program expansion benefits a larger number of previously
uninsured individuals than does the tax credit; 3.8 million people,
versus 3 million people.
But when you examine these policies, you cant look just at the
people who get the new benefit and get coverage. You have to look
also at whether some people lose coverage as a result of a new pol-
icy.
And experience tells us that if we equalize or expand tax pref-
erences beyond the work place to equalize tax treatment inside and
outside work, employers are likely to respond by dropping coverage.
And the employees who lose coverage as a result will take advan-
tage of credits and buy coverage, but some of them wont. Indeed,
tax credits are likely to disrupt coverage, and we can see the re-
sults of that on figure five.
Although the tax credit provides subsidies to an estimated 3 mil-
lion previously uninsured people, an estimated 1.4 million people
with employer coverage are likely to lose coverage as employers
drop that coverage and individuals find themselves unable to afford
picking up a new policy.

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I have focused this testimony on the numbers of people covered,


but there are also differences in the benefits that people would re-
ceived under the two approaches, and the kinds of people who
would receive benefits.
Because of the way the non-group insurance market works, the
recipients or beneficiaries of tax credits will be disproportionately
young and healthy, and their coverage will not protect them from
significant out of pocket costs.
Under the public program expansion, newly covered parents and
their children will be covered, regardless of age or health status,
and consistent with existing Medicaid and CHIP rules, will face lit-
tle or at higher incomes constrain out of pocket obligations.
So, in sum, although the two policies appear to be addressing the
same problem, they have very different consequences. Tax credits
reach a lot of people, but most of them are not uninsured.
For the uninsured who are the minority of recipients, they pro-
vide quite a modest benefit to the disproportionately young and
healthy, many of whom are not low income, and they cause people
to lose insurance from their employers at the same time they are
seeking to expand coverage.
The sole purpose of a public program is to expand coverage, and
it concentrates a comprehensive benefit on a narrowly defined pop-
ulation, the vast majority of whom are uninsured.
If the Nations goal is to expand meaningful coverage for those
who need it the most and are least able to pay, the top priority
must be the expansion of a public program, which is far more effec-
tive in targeting resources from the tax credit approach. Thank you
very much, Mr. Chairman.
[The prepared statement of Judith Feder follows:]
PREPARED STATEMENT OF JUDITH FEDER, DEAN OF PUBLIC POLICY, GEORGETOWN
UNIVERSITY
Mr. Chairman, members of the Committee, it is a pleasure to appear before you
today to discuss the critical issue of expanding health insurance coverage. Sadly, the
1990s demonstrated that prosperity is insufficient to prevent millions of Americans
from being uninsured and therefore at risk of lacking access to health care when
they need it. And, with economic recession, millions more are at risk as the loss of
jobs carries with it the loss of health insurance. There is no doubt that policy inter-
ventions are needed to assure that peopleespecially people with low and modest
incomeshave access to affordable, adequate health insurance coverage.
There is considerable bipartisan agreement on the desirability of public subsidies
targeted to low and moderate income people to achieve this goal. However, there is
considerable disagreement on the form that subsidies should take. Some advocate
reliance on tax credits for the purchase of private insurance, while others promote
the extension of publicly-sponsored or publicly-purchased health insurance coverage
(Medicaid or the State Childrens Health Insurance Program or SCHIP).
Analysis tells us that the choice of policy mechanism makes an enormous dif-
ference to the policy outcomein particular, how many and what kinds of people
get covered and what kind of coverage they get. Key questions that must be asked
of any health insurance initiative are:
Will its resources be effectively targeted to people who lack health insurance, es-
pecially those who can least afford to purchase coverage on their own?
Will its coverage be adequate to assure affordable health care?
Will it disrupt adequate coverage that people already have?
Analysis building on past experience allows us to estimate the likely answers to
these questions for future policy. Our analysis shows that public program expan-
sions are far more effective than proposals that rely on tax policy in expanding
meaningful coverage to those who need it most, without disrupting coverage that
is currently in place.

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Differences in Policy Instruments
The appeal of reliance on tax policy to expand coverage appears to be the poten-
tial to provide benefits with minimal government involvement. However, three fac-
tors call this strategy into question.
Tax policy is not designed to reach low income people. About half the people with-
out health insurance do not file an income tax return or owe any income taxes. As
a result, most tax-based proposals would make tax credits refundable, that is, avail-
able without regard to tax liability. The Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) is a re-
fundable tax credit that has been enormously successful in enhancing income for the
working poor. However, it is harder to support the purchase of health insurance
than to boost income. Tax credits, including the EITC, are typically taken as re-
fundsmoney the taxpayer gets back at the end of the year. To buy health insur-
ance, people with limited incomes need the cash in advance. Further, they need to
know they can keep the money, even if their income changes. Advanceability and
non-reconciliation of subsidies and incomes would require substantial departures
from current tax policies, which aim at ensuring the accuracy and efficiency of the
tax system. Such mechanisms are uncertain and untested in their ability to finance
health insurance coverage for a low and modest income population. Promises to
modify tax practices to support the purchase of health insurance are therefore sub-
ject to question.
Tax-based proposals rely on a problematic insurance market. Tax credit proposals
aim to enable individuals to choose health insurance plans in the private market.
Since 70 percent of the uninsured population lacks access to employer coverage,
most of the uninsured are expected to turn to the non-group insurance market as
a source of coverage. But that market is riddled with problems. To avoid adverse
selectionthat is, the purchase of insurance by those most likely to use health care,
insurers use practices to avoid enrolling people likely to use services. Except in a
few states with a broad range of consumer protections, insurers can deny people ac-
cess; exclude coverage for services, conditions, body parts, or body systems; and
charge premiums that vary with health status. Such practices not only apply to peo-
ple with serious medical diagnoses, like cancer or AIDS; they also apply to people
with seemingly modest health care needs, related, for example, to allergies. And,
even for those who do get insurance, benefits in the non-group market can be quite
limited. Policies may exclude maternity benefits and mental health care or limit
drug coverage. Equally important they may include significant deductibles or benefit
caps. Limited benefits mean limited access to care for low and modest income peo-
ple.
To mitigate these problems, some have proposed allowing credits to be used in
states high risk pools. However, these measures are unlikely to be very effective
in assuring affordable access to adequate coverage. Despite more than a decade of
experience, nationwide only about 100,000 people are enrolled in 29 state high risk
poolsone quarter of them in Minnesota. These pools aim to provide access to cov-
erage at subsidized rates for people unable to gain access to nongroup market. But
rates are well above the standard rate in the non-group market and vary with age,
and enrollment may be capped, limiting access. In addition, states try to keep costs
under control by excluding coverage for pre-existing conditions and limiting benefits.
Even with a modest tax credit, the costs to individuals of participation in a high
risk pool would remain high and its benefits limited.
Tax credits typically offer too few dollars to make coverage affordable. The value
of the most frequently proposed tax credit falls far short of the average cost of
health insurance. Offering individuals a $1000 credit for a policy that costs, on aver-
age, $2500 (or offering a family a $2000 or $3000 credit for a policy that costs
$7000) has been described as extending a 10 foot rope to people trapped in a 40 foot
hole. The lower a persons income, the less able that individual is to make up the
difference between the credit and the cost of the policy. And the difference will like-
ly be greater, the older the applicant or in the presence of pre-existing conditions.
Limited dollar credits will favor access to insurance not only for people with income
to add to the credits, but also to younger, healthier individuals (while they are
young and healthy). Limited dollars will also be attractive to individuals who are
already purchasing nongroup insurance (and some who are paying substantial out-
of-pocket premiums for employer-sponsored insurance)providing them financial re-
lief but not new coverage.
Some have argued that access to insurance with a credit should not be measured
based on prices in the current market; rather, they argue, the availability of a tax
credit would encourage individuals to seek lower priced policies, closer to the value
of the credit. If that were true, more people might obtain coverage with tax cred-
its. But the benefits associated with that coverage would be substantially more lim-
ited than those now provided. A policy priced at half the premium now typically

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charged would entail a $2800, rather than a $300, deductible; substantially higher
cost-sharing on covered services, and an out-of-pocket maximum set at $5000 rather
than $3000. Lower premiums may enable more people to buy coverage but that cov-
erage will buy them substantially less health care.
Tax credits are an ineffective mechanism for the low and modest income unin-
sured. If we truly wish to provide meaningful health insurance coverage to unin-
sured people with low and modest incomes, we must choose a mechanism that deter-
mines eligibility and provides a subsidy in advance, makes that subsidy sufficient
to support the full (or close to full) cost of insurance, and provides comprehensive
benefits and limited (if any) out-of-pocket costs. Public programs satisfy these condi-
tions and have a proven track record. Given the limitations to tax credits and the
insurance market, even some proponents of tax credits for higher income popu-
lations recognize that a public program is better than using the tax system to reach
the low income uninsured.
Public programs provide the appropriate base for coverage expansions. Medicaids
35-year history of providing health insurance to segments of the low income popu-
lation has established both administrative and legal structures that protect bene-
ficiaries rights to benefits and health care. Perhaps most important, Medicaid ex-
tends an adequate subsidy for an adequate productthat is, a subsidy for the full
cost of comprehensive insurance to people with limited incomes. In addition, it has
an administrative apparatus in place in every state to determine eligibility for sub-
sidies in advance and to facilitate enrollment in health insurance plans. Medicaid
has contracts in place with providers and managed care plans (indeed, Medicaid
programs are public managers of private markets) and have established mecha-
nisms for collecting and matching funds from the federal government.
Although recent attention has focused on barriers to participation in public pro-
grams, a decade ago attention centered on the speed of Medicaid enrollment expan-
sions in response to changes in federal lawfrom 19.2 million people in 1989 to 26.7
million people in 1992. And this year Medicaid eligibility will extend to poor (and
some near-poor) children in all 50 states, the culmination of policies phased in over
a decade. A decade ago, such an achievement seemed difficult to imagine and likely
to engender powerful resistance in the states. But today, its the reality. In addition,
in the last few years,states have also responded to the availability of SCHIP to dra-
matically expand their income eligibility standards for children. Recession and fiscal
pressure on states endanger past achievements and make expansions difficult. Fed-
eral dollars and federal standards will be required to achieve national goals.
Differences in Policy Impacts
Work conducted for the Kaiser Family Foundation Project on Incremental Reform
allows us to examine the likely impact of alternative mechanisms to expand cov-
erage. That work analyzes a range of tax policies and public program expansions
and models their effects. The modeling work draws on past experience to develop
assumptions about how behavior will change in response to a new benefit. These
assumptions then guide a simulation of the policys impact. The assumptions used
in this analysis have been created by researchers at the Urban Institute (for public
program expansions) and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and National
Bureau of Economic Research (for tax policies), with actuarial support from the Ac-
tuarial Research Corporation.
A focus on two proposals that closely resemble those most prominently discussed
allows us to compare the way two approaches with respect to the fundamental goal:
the ability to target resources to the low and modest income uninsured population
without disrupting existing coverage.The two proposals are:
A refundable tax credit for non-group coverage, providing $1000 to individuals
and $2000 to families. Full subsidies would apply to individuals with incomes
below $15,000 (families with incomes below $30,000) and would phase out as
income rises, reaching zero for individuals with incomes of $30,000 (families
with incomes of $60,000).
A Medicaid/SCHIP expansion to parents (and any currently ineligible children)
with incomes up to 200 percent of the federal poverty level (about $30,000 for
a family of three). Benefits and cost-sharing would follow SCHIP rules (neg-
ligible for people with incomes up to 150% of the federal poverty level; capped
at 5% of income for families with incomes between 150% and 200% of the fed-
eral poverty level). States would be required to extend eligibility to the max-
imum allowed under the policy as a condition for receipt of any federal funds
under Medicaid or SCHIP.
Figures 1-5 illustrate the impacts of these two proposals. Figure 1 presents the
bottom line: the number of people who receive benefits from each proposal and the
net number of newly insured under the two different proposals. The tax credit pro-

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vides benefits to almost twice as many people as the public program expansion to
parents (10.6 million vs. 5.4 million). However, the impact of the two policies on the
number of newly insured people is reversed. The public program increases the num-
ber of people who have insurance more than twice as much as the tax credit (3.8
million vs. 1.6 million). Underneath these bottom-line differences are considerable
differences in the way the two programs operate.
Who receives benefits under the two approaches? Looking first at income (Figure
2), about thirty percent of the tax credit benefit recipients have incomes above twice
the federal poverty level. By contrast, all the public programs benefits are target
to people with incomes below that level. Looking next at insurance coverage (Figure
3), 70 percent of the tax credit recipients already have health insurance. Only a mi-
nority of recipients are uninsured. By contrast, 70 percent of the public program re-
cipients are without health insurance coverage.
Figure 4 examines targeting from another perspectivethe share of the uninsured
population that receives benefits from the new program. The tax program makes a
far larger uninsured population eligible for benefits than does the public expansion
to parents (38.3 million vs. 7.6 million people). (The differences are due both to high-
er income eligibility standards in the tax credit and to the public programs focus
on parents and their children.) However, a far larger portion of the eligible unin-
sured population participates in the public program expansion than participates in
the tax credit. Over half (58%) of the parents who are the target of the public pro-
gram participate, as compared with 8 percent of those eligible for the tax credit. By
reaching a larger proportion of a smaller pool of eligibles, the public program expan-
sion benefits a larger number of previously uninsured individuals (parents and chil-
dren) than does the tax credit (3.8 million vs. 3.0 million).
However, the impact of a new policy is not limited to those who benefit from it.
At the same time some people gain insurance from a new policy, others may lose
insurance. Experience indicates that tax policies that reduce the advantage to em-
ployer-sponsored over nongroup insurance lead some employers to discontinue their
coverage. Some employees whose coverage has been dropped will take advantage of
the new tax credit and remain covered. But others will not. By contrast, a narrowly
targeted public program, especially one targeted only to parents, effects only a small
proportion of the workforce and, most likely, only some workers in a firm. In addi-
tion, employers are likely to be somewhat responsive to employees reluctance to
shift from private to public insurance. A narrowly targeted public program is there-
fore is unlikely to lead employers to drop coverage.
Figure 5 zeroes in on the different ways in which the two policies affect the in-
sured and uninsured populations. Although the tax credit provides subsidies to an
estimated 3.0 million previously uninsured people, an estimated 1.4 million people
with employer coverage are likely to lose coverage as employers decide to drop their
coverage offerings. The net increase in the number of people with insurance is
therefore 1.6 million under the tax credit proposal, compared to 3.8 million under
the public program expansion.
Finally, as described above, the 1.6 million people newly covered by the tax credit
will likely be different people, receiving different coverage, than the 3.8 million peo-
ple covered by the public program expansion to parents. People newly insured by
the tax credit will be disproportionately young and healthy, and their coverage will
not protect them from significant out-of-pocket costs. Under the public program ex-
pansion, newly covered parents (and their children) will be covered regardless of
their age or health status and, consistent with existing Medicaid and SCHIP prac-
tices, will face little(or at higher incomes, constrained) out-of-pocket obligations.
Policy Conclusions
Although seemingly addressing the same problem, two different policy mecha-
nisms can have very different impacts. Tax credits reach a large number of people,
but most of them are not uninsured. Indeed, only a small proportion of the unin-
sured populationdisproportionately young and healthyare likely to participate in
the new program and those who do will receive only modest benefits. And, at the
same time it expands coverage, the pursuit of tax equity actually undermines cov-
erage already in existence. As a result some of its coverage gains are offset by cov-
erage offsets. In large part, this outcome reflects the fact that tax credits are not
simply aimed at expanding coverage; they also aim at greater tax equitythat is,
equalizing tax preferences wherever health insurance is purchased.
The sole purpose of a public program is to expand coverage. It concentrates a com-
prehensive benefit on a narrowly defined population, the vast majority of whom are
uninsured. If the nations primary goal is to expand meaningful coverage for those
who need it the most, the public program is by far the more effective mechanism.

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Mr. BILIRAKIS. Thank you, Ms. Feder.


Mr. Weil.

STATEMENT OF ALAN WEIL


Mr. WEIL. Mr. Chairman, and members of the subcommittee, I
appreciate the opportunity to present testimony to you today. My
name is Alan Weil, and I direct the Assessing the New federalism
project at The Urban Institute.
Despite an emerging consensus that public subsidies must be
provided to assist the almost 40 million Americans who lack health
insurance, disagree remains over the form of this assistance.
In my testimony, I argue that the evidence suggests that build-
ing upon existing public programs such as the State Childrens
Health Insurance Program, S-CHIP, or Medicaid, holds far more
promise for improving health insurance coverage than tax credits
do.
Tax credits suffer from five problems; problems of availability,
adequacy, amount, administration, and accountability.
The most serious problem with tax credits is that of availability.
Most tax credit proposals are designed to encourage people to pur-
chase coverage in the individual health insurance market. Insurers
in this market often deny coverage to those with any identifiable
health problems.
When coverage is offered, rates are many times higher for older
adults than for those who are younger. Only a minority of States
have regulations that limit these practices, and thus regardless of
the size of the tax credit, health insurance simply will not be avail-
able to those who most need it.
The second problem with tax credits is adequacy. A tax credit of
$1,000 for an individual, and up to $3,000 for a family does not
cover even half of the cost of the typical health insurance plan.
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Few families of modest means can or will pay the balance with
their own funds. Therefore, tax credit users will primarily end up
in plans with deductibles that run in the thousands of dollars, with
many excluded services, where significant limitations on coverage.
These limited benefit packages will leave families in exactly the
position they find themselves in today, deferring needed care be-
cause of costs, at risk of bankruptcy if they get sick, and placing
a tremendous financial burden of uncompensated care on the entire
health care system.
The third problem with tax credits is that of the amount. Tax
credits suffer from the Goldilocks fallacy. No amount is just right.
Everyone agrees a tax credit that is too small will not increase in-
surance coverage at all.
But a tax credit large enough to help a substantial number of
people obtain health insurance is also going to be large enough to
draw a substantial number of people out of the employer market.
This will raise premiums for small businesses, and shift costs
from the private sector to the taxpayer. A similar cost shift much
less frequently discussed would occur on the boundary between tax
credits and existing public coverage for the very poor.
With dramatic regional variation in health insurance prices
around the country, it is impossible to set a single tax credit
amount that strikes a balance between helping no one and under-
mining the existing health insurance system.
The fourth problem with tax credits is that of administration,
and at a minimum a tax credit must be refundable and
advanceable if it is to help a working family purchase coverage.
Unfortunately, even with these provisions, many families will be
unable of the credit, failure to take advantage of it, or not take it
in advance when they need it because they will worry that they
have to pay the government back at the end of the year.
The fifth problem with tax credits is that of accountability. Peo-
ple in the individual insurance market are on their own if their
coverage is cut, their premiums rise, or there is a dispute over
their benefits.
Consumer outcry among those denied coverage or who feel that
they have been mistreated by their health plan, will create im-
mense pressure for the Federal Government to act. But Federal ac-
tion in the individual health insurance market will intrude upon
existing State control, prompting a destructive battle over prin-
ciples of federalism.
Now existing public programs do have their limitations, and I am
familiar with them as I used to direct the Colorado Medicaid Agen-
cy. But these programs also have a track record. They provide real
comprehensive, cost effective, stable coverage.
They target spending on those most in need, and they minimize
incentives for the private sector to drop coverage. At a time when
the Nation faces tight fiscal constraints and growing numbers of
uninsured, it is essential that limited resources be spent where
they will be most effective.
Tax credits are unlikely to improve the availability of meaningful
health insurance. They run a substantial risk of damaging existing
coverage. I think it is very important to note that all of the argu-

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ments about what tax credits can do come out of models and as-
sumptions, some of them very well constructed, very defensible.
But this is a test, and this is an experiment, and this is a gam-
ble, and is not building on systems that we already know how they
work, and what their weaknesses are, and how to improve them.
By contrast, just last year States were posed to make substantial
progress on the issue of health insurance until fiscal circumstances
took a sharp turn for the worse. Federal assistance that revives the
State and local creativity that we observed just a year ago would
have a real immediate payoff in how many Americans have health
insurance.
It seems to me that this is the more productive and more tar-
geted direction to go. So I thank you for your interest in this issue,
and I welcome any questions that you may have.
[The prepared statement of Alan Weil follows:]
PREPARED STATEMENT OF ALAN WEIL, DIRECTOR, ASSESSING THE NEW FEDERALISM,
THE URBAN INSTITUTE
Mr. Chairman, members of the committee, I appreciate the opportunity to appear
before you today to discuss ways to expand health insurance coverage. My name is
Alan Weil and I direct the Assessing the New Federalism project at the Urban Insti-
tute, a 36-year-old non-profit, non-partisan research institute here in Washington,
D.C. Before coming to the Urban Institute I was executive director of the Colorado
Department of Health Care Policy and Financing, which is the state Medicaid agen-
cy.
There is an emerging consensus that public subsidies must be provided to assist
the 40 million Americans who lack health insurance. The disagreement that re-
mains centers around the form of those subsidies. Some advocate tax credits, while
others advocate expanding existing public programs such as the State Childrens
Health Insurance Program (SCHIP) or Medicaid.
In my testimony today I will argue that the latter approachbuilding upon exist-
ing public programsholds far more promise for improving health insurance cov-
erage. The case for tax credits rests entirely on theory and ignores the practical dif-
ficulties of providing meaningful coverage in a complex, varied health care system.
Existing public programs also have limitations, but they have a 35 year track record
of providing comprehensive, cost-effective and stable coverage to those in need.
Tax credits suffer from five problemsproblems of availability, adequacy, amount,
administration and accountability.
The most serious problem with tax credits is that of availability. Most tax credit
proposals are designed to encourage people to purchase coverage in the individual
health insurance market. Insurers in this market routinely deny coverage to those
with any identifiable health problems. When coverage is offered, rates are many
times higher for older adults than for those who are younger. Administrative costs
routinely exceed 30 percent. These insurance practices are understandablethey
are the only way companies can make money operating in a market where they take
on the substantial risk associated with enrolling people with high health care needs.
Yet, only a minority of states have adopted regulations to limit these and other
practices. Thus, regardless of the size of the tax credit, health insurance simply will
not be available to those who most need it.
The second problem with tax credits is that of adequacy. The size of the credit
$1000 for an individual and $2000 or $3000 for a family in most proposalsdoes
not even cover half the cost of the typical health insurance plan. Analysts agree that
few families of modest means can or will pay the balance with their own funds. Tax
credit users will primarily end up in plans with deductibles that run in the thou-
sands of dollars, with many excluded services, or significant limitations on coverage.
These limited benefit packages will leave families in exactly the position they find
themselves today: deferring needed care because of cost, at risk of bankruptcy if
they get sick, and placing a tremendous financial burden of uncompensated care on
the entire health care system. In addition, all experiments attempted to date show
the same thing: most Americans, and particularly those of limited financial means,
are simply not interested in bare bones coverage.
The third problem with tax credits is that of the amount. Tax credits suffer from
the Goldilocks fallacy: no tax credit amount is just right. Everyone agrees a tax

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credit that is too small will not increase insurance coverage at all. However, a tax
credit large enough to help a substantial number of people obtain health insurance
is also large enough to draw a substantial number of people out of the employer
market, thereby raising premiums for small businesses and shifting costs from the
private sector to the taxpayer. A similar cost shift would occur on the boundary be-
tween tax credits and public coverage for the very poor. Since a fixed dollar tax
credit has health insurance purchasing power that varies by a factor of more than
five to one depending upon where a person lives, it is impossible to set a credit
amount that strikes some theoretically correct balance between helping no one and
undermining the existing health insurance system.
Models that estimate how many people will take advantage of a tax credit, how
many will drop existing coverage, and how many previously uninsured will gain cov-
erage are very sensitive to the assumptions they use. It is very risky to use positive
results from one model to justify a multi-billion dollar expenditure on tax credits.
The fourth problem with tax credits is that of administration. At a minimum, a
tax credit must be refundable and paid in advance if it is to help a working family
purchase coverage. Unfortunately, even with these provisions many families will be
unaware of the credit, fail to take advantage of it, or not take it in advance because
they will worry they will have to pay the government back if they receive a small
wage increase during the year. The existing Earned Income Tax Credit provides im-
portant evidence. Very few families claim the credit in advance even though it is
available. In addition, low-income Hispanic parentsa group disproportionately
likely to be uninsuredare less likely to know about the EITC than other low-in-
come parents, and, even those who do know about it are less likely to have received
the credit.
The fifth problem with tax credits is that of accountability. Most people rely upon
their employer or a public agency to provide them information about their health
plan, assist with problems, and monitor the quality of coverage. But people in the
individual market are on their own. If their coverage is cut, their premiums rise,
or there is a dispute over their benefits, they must fend for themselves. If the fed-
eral government is providing financial incentives to purchase coverage, they will ex-
pect plans to be available. Consumer outcry among those who are denied coverage
or who feel mistreated by their health plan will create immense pressure for the
federal government to act, but if it does so it will step into an area of long-standing
state control, prompting a destructive battle over federalism.
Existing public programs have their limitations, but they also have a 35 year
track record. They provide real, comprehensive, cost-effective stable coverage. They
target spending on those most in need, and they minimize incentives for the private
sector to drop coverage. Public programs have gone through a positive trans-
formation in recent years. They have simplified applications and enrollment proc-
esses, crafted new market-based benefit packages, improved education about cov-
erage options, and have been tackling old problems like how to assure access to crit-
ical services like dental and mental health care.
At a time when the nation faces tight fiscal constraints and growing numbers of
uninsured, it is essential that limited resources be spent where they will be most
effective. If the goal is to reduce the number of people without health insurance,
spending money on tax credits is a huge gamble paid for with taxpayer funds. By
contrast, states were poised to make substantial progress on the issue of health in-
surance until fiscal circumstances recently took a sharp turn for the worse. Even
a modest expenditure of federal funds could revive the state and local creativity we
observed just a year ago. This would be an expenditure based upon a track record,
not a theory and a computer model.
Mr. BILIRAKIS. Thank you, Mr. Weil. Well, there is great interest
in this issue, and you all have worked awfully, awfully hard.
And I am not up here to defend the Presidents proposal. I would
like to say that I feel that I am open-minded, and I think new and
good ideas are always something that we should not attack before
we have had a real good analysis of them.
We should study most anything to see if it will work. But it is
important that we have our facts right. Ms. Feder, taking a look
at your charts, they tell a story, and I guess I want to make sure
that we are comparing apples with apples. On one hand, you have
a tax credit, and I hate like hell to keep referring to a tax credit,
and so I would rather say vouchers.

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Because that is really what it comes down to, all right? But I will
go ahead and use it because the question is worded that way. A
tax credit proposal and then on the one side you would mandate
coverage for parents of children up to 200 percent of the Federal
poverty level.
So you are making comparisons, but are those comparisons tak-
ing into consideration the same dollars, the same costs?
Ms. FEDER. I am glad you raised that, Mr. Bilirakis, because the
comparison that we do show, shows you that you essentially get
what you pay for in coverage, and if you cover more people, you es-
sentially spend more money.
And the analysis therefore shows to cover the 3.8 million that the
public program reaches, costs significantly more than to cover the
1.6 million that is in the tax
Mr. BILIRAKIS. But you dont reflect that in your charts or any-
where in here?
Ms. FEDER. We do it in the overall analysis. I apologize. I would
be happy to include it.
Mr. BILIRAKIS. What does it cost?
Ms. FEDER. My recollection is that roughly the Federal cost or
the total cost, Federal and State, for the expansion to 200 percent
of poverty, was in the neighborhood of $11 billion, and the cost of
the tax credit reaching the 1.6 million people was in the neighbor-
hood of between $4 and $5 billion on an annual basis.
Mr. BILIRAKIS. So you are talking about 2 to 3 times higher?
Ms. FEDER. But the cost per individual was essentially the same.
So it is all a question of how much coverage you wish to provide.
In addition to that, you would want to look at what you were buy-
ing with the coverage, and under the public program expansion,
you are buying the uninsured individuals a comprehensive benefit.
Under the tax credit the analysis shows that the lions share of
what you are spending is going to the already insured, and you
provide the uninsured the minority, or uninsured, a very modest
benefit.
Mr. BILIRAKIS. Well, so you keep emphasizing that you would be
making it available to the already insured. So what you areare
you basically saying that the employer would then drop coverage?
Ms. FEDER. I am saying two things. The recipients who already
have insurance are two kinds. Many of them are people who al-
ready have the non-group insurance, and who get financial relief
when you give them a credit, but not new insurance coverage.
An additional portion of them are people who moved from the
employer coverage and take advantage of the tax credit outside. In
addition to those are people who lose coverage because their em-
ployer drops and they find themselves unable or offsetting those,
and are people who actually lose coverage as a result of the change.
Mr. BILIRAKIS. Ms. Turner, I think you are chomping at the bit
to respond to all of that.
Ms. TURNER. Well, Mr. Chairman, there was a conference yester-
day to give a lot of economists and health policy experts an oppor-
tunity to look into detail at the paper that Ms. Feder and her col-
leagues have produced.
And there was a great deal of discussion about the assumptions
that are behind the cost estimates that they have created, and

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Mark McConna from the White House used an analogy that if you
are in factthat if you have two economists in a whole, and they
both try to figure out how to get out, and one of them assumes a
shovel and the other assumes a ladder.
So assumptions are of their own creation, but there was some
concern about some of the assumptions that would perhaps put tax
credits in a different light than the Medicaid expansion.
For example, their model estimates that a family of four would
face a premium of $10,000 for health insurance, and not surpris-
ingly they do assume then that you only have an 8 percent of the
people who would be eligible for a tax credit actually taking up the
policy.
So that is one way you could look at the world, but the Council
of Economic Advisors has done a separate study and shown that a
family could get a policy for $3,300. You could assume $5,000. You
could assume $7,000. Another issue that they assumed
Mr. BILIRAKIS. Mr. de Posada, I think you mentionand forgive
me for interrupting youthat you have done some research, and
you have determined that there are policies. Are these good poli-
cies, or are they policies?
Mr. POSADA. Well, these are policies that do not have the $10,000
deductible that we are talking about here or the premium costs.
And we are talking about $1,000 deductibles, PPOs.
I mean, obviously they are not going to be Cadillac plans. They
are not going to be offering enormous amounts of benefits. But at
least there is something there, and one of the big things that we
have seen in our community is that concern that you are going to
have an accident, and you are going to be financially ruined for the
rest of your live because of that.
And I think this is a great opportunity to at least take care of
that concern.
Mr. BILIRAKIS. Ms. Turner, I cut you off. Please, would you finish
up whatever it is that you want.
Ms. TURNER. Just briefly, Mr. Chairman. I think it is also impor-
tant to note that the model of the tax credit that was put into this
model is not the Presidents plan. It is a $2,000 per family and not
$3,000 for a family.
And also they assume, and I am just very interested in this as-
sumption, that with a tax credit that employers would drop3 mil-
lion people would lose their current employment-based coverage
that already have it.
And they assume that with a Medicaid expansion that no one
loses employment based coverage, and that really changes the bot-
tom line arithmetic of who is going to get coverage, versus various
plans.
So one of the suggestions at this coverage was that we need to
integrate into one better set of assumptions how you get a better
comparison.
Mr. BILIRAKIS. Yes, thank you. My time is up. I just hope that
we dontwe want to do something to help people who need some
help, and if what we are looking for is perfection, we just are not
going to get it, and that is what we have done with the Patients
Bill of Rights business, and that sort of thing.

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I mean, would it not be better to have if in fact the need was


there, and some people question that. But the point is that if the
need was there, wouldnt it be better to have something that is less
perfect, but at least something that is a force?
We had a bill a few years ago that had so many co-sponsors that
we cutoff the co-sponsorship if you will recall. I hate to put it this
way because my name is on it, but the Roll and Bilirakis bill, and
how many people would have been helped now?
I am talking about quite a few years ago, and who would have
been helped now if that plan had gone into effect, and the majority
of the Congress was all for it. We had to cutoff co-sponsorships, but
the leadership would not allow it to come on to the floor.
But lets be a little sensible here, and lets do something, even
though it isnt perfect. Mr. Brown to inquire.
Mr. BROWN. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. In my 9 years in this
committee, I have found Dr. Feders assumptions, and her logic,
and her intellectual honesty to always be unblemished.
So you seemed a bit impatient as two other witnesses were talk-
ing. So go to it, Dr. Feder.
Ms. FEDER. Thank you, Mr. Brown. I would indeed prefer to
state the assumptions myself rather than have them stated for me.
Ms. Turner is quite correct that there was a conference that we
had yesterday, because we are interested in getting input in the
analysis we have done.
There was a lot of discussion about the assumptions, and the
White House economist from the CEA was quite challenging of the
assumptions, and raised a number of questions.
And the analyst who developed the assumptions and did the
modeling from MIT and the Urban Institute responded, and the as-
sumptions were not quite as Ms. Turner described them.
The assumptions are based when we talk about the premium
that people look at to go shopping with their tax credit, and the
assumption is that the price of the policy is what the price is in
the current market for non-group insurance.
We also looked at what behavior would be if people shopped for
a policy that cost half that, but provided half the value in benefits.
So there was not an assumption of looking at a $10,000 policy ex-
cept to the extent that a $10,000 premium would apply in the mar-
ket.
The model really looks at the prices that actually exist in the
marketplace today. And I am sure that you will want to discuss
further those prices are far higher for many people than the low
price that we sometimes hear quoted, and it is available on the
internet for that rare healthy young individual.
So the assumptions are really quite consistent with the lit-
erature, the economics literature, and indeed that was acknowl-
edged by participants from other institutions, other recognized in-
stitutions, and indeed as someone else observed, the underlying as-
sumptions are very similar in the work that has been done in some
areas by the Council of Economic Advisors and by us.
And as I said, the numbers actually are not very far off when you
present them in a consistent fashion.

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105

Mr. BROWN. Okay. Thank you. Let me ask a little about the pri-
vate insurance market. Do insurers require the private insurance
market in most States to offer any specific set of benefits?
Ms. FEDER. No, insurers typically offerwell, there are actually
mandates in terms ofin some States as to what insurance has to
offer, and that applies in some cases. But the insurance, the nature
of the policy that any individual can get can vary tremendously.
Insurers have tremendous freedom in terms of what kinds of
benefits they will cover.
Mr. BROWN. Are they required to cover all conditions?
Ms. FEDER. No, they are not required to cover all conditions, and
indeed, many policies actually explicitly exclude conditions, and
body parts, and body systems, from coverage.
Mr. BROWN. They clearly are not required to charge the same
price?
Ms. FEDER. Absolutely not.
Mr. BROWN. Are insurers in the individual market required to
offer a policy to anyone who wants one?
Ms. FEDER. No, indeed they are not. There are very few States
or some States that have guaranteed issue requirements, but be-
cause they can charge people any premium they wish to charge,
that really does not make it in Dr. Weils view that it really does
not make it accessible or available.
Mr. BROWN. So describe to me what types of people who are eligi-
ble for the Presidents tax credit? What types of people who are eli-
gible would have difficulty in the individual insurance market?
Ms. FEDER. It is very interesting to ask that because colleagues
of mine did a study recently on the kinds or the people who shop
for coverage in the non-group market and have some difficulties or
they found difficulties in getting it.
A 24 year old waitress with hay fever; a family with two 36 year
old parents, a 10 year old daughter, and a 12 year old son with
asthma, and recurring ear infections; a 48 year old who had breast
cancer 7 years ago; and a 62 year old man who smoked, in addition
to a couple of other sample applicants.
And they found that the waitress with hay fever was faced with
or did receive offers, but most of those offers excluded her coverage
for hay fever, and some of those offers excluded coverage for her
entire respiratory system.
And with the young boy with asthma, there were policies that re-
fused to cover the child altogether, and I am particularly sensitive
to this one because I have a son with asthma.
And if you had not covered his respiratory system in his insur-
ance, and you did not have the income that I am fortunate to have,
he would have been in an emergency room or without treatment on
numerous occasions.
These are examples, and I can go on with these cases, but we
find that we are not just talking about people with serious high
risk conditions, who find themselves unable to find affordable and
adequate coverage in the non-group market.
Indeed, I would not want myself or my son to have to go shop-
ping in that market giving health existing conditions.
Mr. BROWN. Okay. We have two entitlements here. We have the
tax credit if enacted that entitlement, or we have the Medicaid en-

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titlement. The tax credit provides various kinds of insurance, var-


ious levels of coverage, various prices, is not available to many.
Medicaid provides for a standard set of broad coverage. Where
does the government get its best bang for the buck here?
Ms. FEDER. Well, I dont think there is a moments question. I
think the priority in new dollars has got to go to people who dont
have insurance, and to the people who are least able to buy it on
their own.
And to be spending money on people who already have insur-
ance, rather than those who dont seems to me an inefficient and
inexcusable use of our current resources. We can celebrate this
year the accomplishment that all over the Nation, in 50 States, all
poor children are covered as a result of Medicaid requirements that
were enacted over a decade ago.
And at that time there was a lot of concern that this was not pos-
sible, and that it was beyond the resources of States, and that we
would never reach that goal. Now, it did take us better than a dec-
ade to achieve it, and that is unfortunate.
But all those poor children can count on a federally guaranteed
entitlement program to provide them a comprehensive set of bene-
fits, and as someone said earlier, god bless Medicaid.
Mr. BROWN. Thank you.
Mr. BILIRAKIS. I was a little concerned. I used the word stag-
gering facts that Dr. Kellermann shared with us regarding Med-
icaid, and the movement in and out of Medicaid, the revolving na-
ture of Medicaid and what not, and for what seemed to be a lack
of stability.
And we have to ask these questions of ourselves, but would not
something, whether it bewhatever you might want to call it, but
some sort of tax certificate to help people to get out there and
choose whatever it is that they would want and result in more sta-
bility.
But on the other hand, you also raised the point of the
uninsurability of some people; the child with asthma and that sort
of thing. So that is what makes this job almost impossible.
Well, I think it is a little easier as a result of your testimony.
But anyway, we appreciate your time here, and again as you know,
and many of you have testifiedDr. Feder and others have testi-
fied here beforeyou know that we will have written questions of
you, and we would hope that you would respond in a timely fash-
ion.
We are going to do the best that we can. We are tousling with
prescription drugs for Medicare recipients right now that is kind of
a top priority, but uninsured is also up there, and in an election
hear like this, particularly with the war on terrorism taking place,
it places additional burdens on us, but we are going to do the best
that we can. Thank you very much.
Also, here are members who would wish to submit their opening
statements, and without objection, that will always be the case.
Thank you very much, and in addition to materials.
[Whereupon, at 1:24 p.m., the subcommittee was adjourned.]
[Additional material submitted for the record follows:]

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May 10, 2002
The Honorable MICHAEL BILIRAKIS
Chairman
Committee on Energy and Commerce
Subcommittee on Health
Washington, DC 20515
DEAR MR. CHAIRMAN: Thank you for your letter of April 30, 2002 and for the op-
portunity to testify before the Subcommittee on Health on February 28, 2002.
Per your request, I have prepared answers to the follow-up questions submitted
by Members on the problems to access affordable health care coverage. Again, thank
you for this opportunity and if I can be of any further assistance, please do not hesi-
tate to contact me.
Sincerely,
THOMAS R. DONNELLY, JR.
Member of the Board

RESPONSES FROM THE HONORABLE THOMAS R. DONNELLY, JR.


1) Some states have repealed guaranteed issue requirements and put in high-risk
pools instead. For example, Kentucky, Washington, Idaho and New Hampshire
previously had guaranteed issue but have since repealed the mandate and provide
(or plan to provide) access to health insurance for the hard to insure individuals
through high-risk pools.
Kentuckys 1995 reforms that included guaranteed issue laws led to an exodus of
40 private insurance carriers from the state, leaving only one plan behind. In 1998,
the state revised its reforms and established a new guaranteed access program in
attempt to lure companies back to the individual market. The attempt proved to be
insufficient in encouraging market competition so additional changes were made in
April 2000 to allow medical underwriting in the individual market and the estab-
lishment of Kentucky Access, a new high-risk pool.
In the case of Washington, individual market reforms in 1993 that included guar-
antee issue, standardized plans and rating restrictions resulted in such a high level
of losses that by 1999, all individual health insurance carriers in the state left the
market. Major reform legislation was passed in March 2000 to restore competition
and participation by insurers and to establish a high-risk pool for those who are
hard to insure.
Both Idaho and New Hampshire faced similar results from their guarantee issue
regulations that led state legislature in 2000 and 2001, respectively, to revise their
laws and establish high risk pools.
2) The Health Insurance Flexibility and Accountability (HIFA) demonstration ini-
tiative strongly encourages states to think creatively about how Medicaid and Chil-
drens Health Insurance Program funding can be used to maintain and encourage
coverage in the group health plan market. The new options available under this
waiver will allow working families to be insured together. Employees will be able
to take advantage of employer sponsored coverage and use dollars available through
the HIFA waivers to help them pay for family coverage in their employers plan.
Many families who previously shunned Medicaid and CHIP programs due to the
stigma associated with the Medicaid program will be more receptive to participating
in coverage in an employer setting.
A summary of specific state options under the HIFA program produced by the Na-
tional Association of Health Underwriters is attached.
3) In response to Ms. Feders study and overall analysis in comparison with the
tax credit proposal, the choice is clearly between consumer choice and government
control. Ultimately, the tax credit proposal, rather than state expansion of public
programs, empowers individuals to select their own place of purchase rather than
having that place of purchase imposed on them by the government. Hewitt Associ-
ates LLC consumer study reports that 87% of participating employees felt they un-
derstood fairly or very well how to choose the best health plans for their needs
(although employers speculated only 61% employees had confidence in such a deci-
sion). The data suggests that consumers are more capable of making their own deci-
sions about their health care needs that employers assume.
Ms. Feders analysis is based on numerous assumptions including:
e) Substantial employer dropping of coverage is assumed for the tax credits.
f) A higher cost of insurance than is estimated by the Council of Economic Advisors
or currently provided by groups like e-HealthInsurance.
g) Very low take-up rate for the tax credit and high take-up rate for the Medicaid
expansion

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In response to these assumptions, I would highlight the following:
a) In his testimony before the House Ways and Means Committee on February
13, Mark McClellan stated: The impact of tax credits on employer health insurance
coverage would be minimal, and the majority of individuals taking up the proposed
health credit would be those who were either previously uninsured or previously
covered in the non-employer insurance market. In addition, no empirical data sug-
gests that tax credits for individuals will inevitably lead to drastic reduction of par-
ticipation in employer-sponsored plans. The reality remains that 1) About 80% of
uninsured workers are not offered health insurance by their employers; 2) Only 36%
of people under age 65 with income below 200% of FPL have employer-sponsored
insurance, while 77% of those above do. Also, it should be noted that of all employ-
ees offered employer-sponsored coverage, 5% dont accept and that 5% make up the
20% of uninsured population. Twenty percent of the uninsured have access to em-
ployer-sponsored coverage but are unable to afford their share of employer-spon-
sored premiums.
b) Higher cost quotes of private insurance often result from looking at the smaller
segments of the uninsured population, the elderly and the unhealthy. U.S. Census
Bureau reports that 12.6% of the uninsured population are between the ages of 45
to 64. Stated another way, 88% of the uninsured are 44 years of age or younger.
Not that this segment of the population is any less significant but focusing on the
exceptions will paralyze any progress on the issue.
The same can be said for the unhealthy uninsured or those unable to receive cov-
erage in the individual market due to preexisting health conditions. Although sev-
eral estimates have been made on the size of this population, only 5% of uninsured
population (1.5% of U.S. population) is chronically uninsurable according to Com-
municating for Agricultures Comprehensive Health Insurance for High-Risk Indi-
viduals and other studies.
National Association of Health Underwriters offered its own analysis of what is
available in the individual market for the unhealthy or those who are hard to in-
sure in response to a study conducted by Kaiser Family Foundation (see attached).
For the six hypothetical cases who represented less than perfect health, All 6 out
of 6 unhealthy individuals (not including the individual diagnosed with AIDS), were
able to obtain health insurance in every one of 8 geographic markets tested (health
insurance companies approved 75% of these total submitted applications).
c) Ms. Feder claims that tax credits are inefficient since they extend to all people
in an eligible income category regardless of their current insurance status. We
would agree that it is true that there will be some individuals who will be eligible
for the tax credit who are currently insured. These individuals have exercised per-
sonal responsibility and made sacrifices in order to provide health insurance for
their families, in spite of their low incomes. Regardless of the inefficiency of ex-
tending a tax credit to these already insured individuals, it would seem quite unfair
to penalize them for doing the right thing if they are otherwise eligible for the cred-
it.
Ms. Feder claims that public programs have a higher take-up rate among pre-
viously uninsured individuals, and are therefore more efficient. However, this take-
up rate is based on a smaller eligibility category that only includes those who were
previously uninsured, versus the tax credit where eligibility is based on income level
and not insurance status. In reality, the tax credit reaches more people, including
those who are already struggling to provide coverage to their families. It helps peo-
ple who need help the most, based on their income level.
Contrary to Ms. Feders assertions, the odds of employers discontinuing their cov-
erage if a tax credit program were enacted are small. The tax credit is after all a
means tested proposal. It is highly unlikely that all of an employers employees
would be eligible for the tax credit, and although employers are allowed to discrimi-
nate in their financial contributions by class, a class made up only of those employ-
ees eligible for the tax credit would not fit within allowable guidelines. Employers
offer health insurance to recruit and retain good employees, and they will continue
to do so. A properly structured tax credit can help an employers low income employ-
ees pay for their share of coverage, particularly family coverage, and this greater
participation by employees would actually improve employer health plan loss ratios.
Ms. Feders presumptions do not reflect market realities, current law, or typical ac-
tions by employers.
COST AND AVAILABILITY OF HEALTH INSURANCE FOR PEOPLE WITH CHRONIC HEALTH
CONDITIONS

Considerable misunderstandings exist about the cost and availability of health in-
surance for those with chronic health conditions. While available evidence is limited

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109
and should be improved, those with chronic conditions by and large do have access
to affordable health insurance coverage.
The vast majority of Americans receive their health coverage through their em-
ployer, and the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996
(HIPAA) provides that all employer groups guarantee access to health insurance
coverage without regard to health status. For individuals who obtain coverage
through the individual health insurance market, a wide variety of options have been
implemented at the state level to ensure access to coverage.
Background on Chronic Conditions and Health Insurance
The term chronic condition can be interpreted widely or narrowly. Many studies
label anyone who takes medication regularly (such as allergy medicine or anti-
depressants) as chronically ill, regardless of how those conditions affect insur-
ance availability, premiums, or the expected cost of health care. About 60 mil-
lion working-age people have a chronic condition under the broadest definition,
which includes just about any condition that may influence medical care use in
any way 1. Yet this does not mean that they cannot get health insurance or that
their health insurance or their total health care costs will always be signifi-
cantly higher as a result.
Many programs exist to help those who have serious chronic conditions get afford-
able health insurance in the individual market. For example, many states have
high-risk pools for people who dont qualify for coverage in the regular indi-
vidual health insurance market. These pools have caps set on premiums aver-
aging about 150% of the individual market average rate. In addition to the pre-
miums paid by pool participants, these pools are normally subsidized by assess-
ments to insurance carriers and state funds from a variety of sources.2
In June of 2001, Kaiser Family Foundation issued a report on the availability of
coverage for people in less than perfect health. NAHU participated in the research
for this project and can vouch for the accuracy of the objective data included in the
study.
NAHU would not, however, have reached the same conclusions based on the anal-
ysis of the underwriting and pricing information collected.
Kaiser Study 3
Data
Seven fictional applicants sought individual health insurance policies in eight dif-
ferent geographic areas. The applicants had different ages, family structures,
health conditions, etc.
Quotes for $500 deductible, $20 office visit co-pay plans were solicited. Offers,
prices, and restrictions were recorded.
Kaisers Interpretation
The Kaiser report emphasized that applicants with chronic conditions were often
rejected by at least one insurance company in the region, and often received of-
fers with surcharges (rate-ups) or exclusion of certain conditions (riders).
The HIV positive applicant failed to receive offers in any market.
On further analysis . . .
The conclusion that affordable health care is not available to persons with chronic
conditions is not a complete picture of the way health care coverage works. In
the Kaiser study, all but one of the fictitious applicants (with the exception of
the HIV positive patient) received at least one offer in each market, and the
vast majority of offers were affordable and not restrictive. These offers are
shown in more detail in the appendix.
The rate-up seen in many offers was often only 25%, and was often applied to
a lower base premium than the premium offered to healthy persons in the mar-
ket. For example, the applicant who had situational depression received a clean
offer with a $276 premium, but an offer with a 20% premium increase (and no
benefit limits) that was $279only $3 higher. Both of these offers without ex-
clusions were less costly than some of the offers that included benefit limita-
tions.

1 Community Tracking Study Household Survey


2 Comparison of State Level High Risk Pools, National Association of Health Underwriters,
January 2002.
3 Pollitz, Sorian, and Thomas, How Accessible is Individual Health Insurance for Consumers
in Less than perfect Health?, Kaiser Family Foundation, June, 2001.

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Not all applicants who had riders would face much higher costs. For example,
in Florida, the allergy sufferer received only offers with limits on coverage for
her allergies. But her lowest offer was a monthly premium of $111, and the
monthly cost of the specific medications and shots that were excluded would av-
erage only $31, for an effective maximum monthly cost of $142much lower
than the average premium reported of $257. In Arizona, she received no offers
without restrictions, but received an offer excluding her allergy treatment for
only $66. Again, with an estimated cost for medications and allergy shots aver-
aging $31 per month, her total monthly outlay would have been $97.
In the relatively rare cases where coverage exclusions or rate-ups are substantial,
high-risk pools and state insurers of last resort provide an alternate source
of coverage. The California and Florida high-risk pools cited in the original Kai-
ser analysis are two of the worst-performing pools, due to lack of adequate fund-
ing for many years. As a result, these two pools are much less functional than
their counterparts in other states. High- risk pools in states that use an insur-
ance carrier assessment mechanism to offset losses of the pool are able to pro-
vide affordable coverage for many otherwise uninsurable individuals. In addi-
tion, other state mechanisms to guarantee access, such as carriers of last re-
sort provide additional options. For example, the individual who suffered from
allergies in the Kaiser study received no clean offers in Virginia, and had an
average monthly premium (with riders) of $118. But the same individual could
have elected a policy with no riders through the guaranteed issuer of last resort
in Virginia (Trigon) for $104. Furthermore, the HIV positive applicant could re-
ceive insurance through a high-risk pool or carrier of last resort (with no benefit
restrictions) in 6 of the 8 states examined, 4 of which had premiums under
$300. The clear conclusion is that adequately-funded high-risk pools can and do
provide affordable coverage for persons with even the most serious chronic con-
ditions.
It should be noted that individuals and families who lose employer coverage with
at least 18 months of creditable coverage have a guaranteed right to purchase
coverage in the individual market in all 50 states, providing they meet HIPAA
eligibility provisions. In addition, employees leaving groups of more than 20 em-
ployees have the right to continue coverage under the federal COBRA law, and
many states provide state continuation options for individuals leaving employ-
ers with less than 20 employees.
An examination of states that do not use underwriting but instead have imposed
guaranteed-issue and community rating requirements in their non-group insur-
ance markets, show that almost all of the applicants would have faced vastly
higher health insurance costs. For example, the applicant with high blood pres-
sure could get monthly premiums without benefit restrictions that ranged from
$244 to $805 in the 8 different markets studied. But in New Jersey, a state
with guaranteed issue and community rating, his monthly premium would be
$1,801.
Finally, a very important purchasing consideration for low-income individuals who
purchase in the individual market is affordability of any size premium. Individuals
and families who purchase in the individual health insurance market do not have
the luxury of a financial contribution by an employer. Regardless of their income
or health status, these individuals must purchase individual health insurance cov-
erage entirely on their own. For this reason, NAHU strongly supports refundable
tax credits to make the cost of coverage more affordable, especially for low-income
individuals.
APPENDIX: DETAILS ON HEALTH INSURANCE OFFERS RECEIVED BY ALL HYPOTHETICAL
APPLICANTS IN ALL MARKETS

The Kaiser study examined the insurance offers received by six hypothetical ap-
plicants in eight geographic areas (IL, TX, IA, CA, FL, VA, AZ, IN). (Costs are ex-
pressed below as the best offer for monthly premiums.)
For comparison, each of the single applicants would have faced the following
(higher) rates in three guaranteed issue and community rated states: in NJ,
$1,801; in NY $364; in ME, $516.
Alice: 24 years old, allergies
Received offers with no restrictions in 5/8 markets (IL, TX, IA, CA, and IN), with
an average monthly premium of $100.
Received an offer with an exclusion for certain allergy treatments of $111 in FL.
Adding her estimated monthly out of pocket costs for Allegra and allergy shots
yields an effective monthly cost of $142.

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Virginias guaranteed issuer Trigon would have issued a policy of $104 with only
a $300 deductible (or $93 with a $750 deductible) and no benefit restrictions.
Bob: 36 years old, previous knee surgery
Received offers with no restrictions in 8/8 markets, averaging $134.
Received significantly cheaper offers that excluded the knee in several states (for
example, $69 instead of $154 in VA, $111 instead of $335 in FL). Given that
no further treatment on the knee is anticipated, these offers might be pref-
erable.
Crane Family: Family of 4, son with asthma
Received offers of family coverage without restriction in 4/8 markets (IL, CA, AZ,
and IN), averaging $352.
In 3 of the remaining states (IA, TX, and VA), if the family purchased coverage
except for the son (without restrictions) and added coverage for the son through
either the state high risk pool or carrier of last resort, the familys total average
premium would be $512.
The premium for the family was $497 in FL, but it excluded the sons asthma.
The FL high-risk pool is one of the few high-risk pools that are currently closed.
These rates generally compare very favorably to the coverage available in guaran-
teed-issue states: monthly premium in NJ, $3273; in NY $947; in ME, $1,900.
Denise: 48 years old, previous breast cancer
Received offers with no restrictions in 8/8 markets, averaging $226.
Emily: 56 years old, situational depression
Received offers with no restrictions in 8/8 markets, averaging $253.
Frank: 62 years old, high blood pressure, smoker, overweight
Received offers with no restrictions in all 8/8 markets, averaging $514.
Greg: 36 years old, HIV positive
Received no offers in individual market.
Virtually all individual market insurers in the United States consider HIV+ sta-
tus to be an uninsurable medical condition.
Would be able to purchase insurance through high-risk pools or a carrier of last
resort in all states except FL and AZ, with an average cost of $330. (The VA
plan had a higher deductible, although a lower deductible plan was also avail-
able. The CA policy had annual and lifetime limits, and has a waiting list.)
PRIVATE SECTOR HEALTH INSURANCE OPTIONS USING PUBLIC FUNDING

Background
The Bush Administration has developed a new initiative to provide health insur-
ance to low income individuals and families. The Health Insurance Flexibility and
Accountability (HIFA) demonstration initiative strongly encourages private health
insurance options targeted to people with incomes below 200 percent of the federal
poverty level (FPL). Private health insurance options include both group health plan
coverage and individual health insurance coverage. The HIFA initiative uses current
Medicaid and SCHIP resources under a Section 1115 waiver, and therefore does not
require new budget allocations.
Eligibility, Benefits and Cost Sharing
The new initiative does not limit the upper income eligibility level, but does focus
on individuals with family incomes below 200 percent of the federal poverty level.
States requesting eligibility above 200 percent of the federal poverty level must
demonstrate that their state already has high coverage rates in this range and that
covering individuals above 200 percent of the federal poverty level will not induce
those who already have private health insurance coverage to drop it. States are en-
couraged to think creatively about how Medicaid and Childrens Health Insurance
Program funding can be used to maintain and encourage coverage in the group
health plan market.
Benefit requirements differ depending on the population to be covered. The bene-
fits are targeted at the following populations:
(Mandatory populations: groups which must be covered by Medicaid, such as chil-
dren under age six and pregnant women up to 133 percent of the federal pov-
erty level.
(Optional populations: groups that could be covered under Medicaid or the Chil-
drens Health Insurance Program, whether or not the state has actually elected
to do this. Family income eligibility for these groups is greater than the manda-

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112
tory population income levels. They include children already enrolled in the
Childrens Health Insurance Program, children who are or could be covered by
Medicaid at incomes greater than the mandatory income levels, and parents
covered by Medicaid.
(Expansion populations: groups not eligible for Medicaid or SCHIP unless pro-
vided coverage through a section 1115 waiver authority, such as non-disabled
adults without children.
The HIFA waiver does not allow reduction of benefits for mandatory populations,
or vulnerable populations such as pregnant mothers or children with special needs.
States will have new flexibility under the HIFA initiative to modify current benefit
packages for optional populations under both Medicaid and SCHIP to allow all op-
tional populations to be covered by one of the benefit packages available under the
Childrens Health Insurance Program, including:
The benefit package for the HMO that has the largest commercial enrollment in
the state, or;
The Blue Cross/Blue Shield PPO option for federal employees, or;
A health benefits coverage plan that is offered and available to state employees,
or;
A benefit package that is actuarily equivalent to one of those above, or;
A package approved by the Secretary.
Benefits packages for optional populations must include inpatient and outpatient
hospital services, physicians surgical and medical services, lab and x-ray services,
well-baby and well-child care, including age appropriate immunizations.
States will have even greater flexibility in designing the benefit package for ex-
pansion populations. The benefit package for expansion populations must include a
basic primary care package, which means health care services customarily provided
by or through a general practitioner, family physician, internal medicine physician,
obstetrician/gynecologist, or pediatrician. States may establish limits on the types
of providers and the types of services, subject to approval by the Secretary of Health
and Human Services. Benefits must be comprehensive enough to be consistent with
the HIFA goal of increasing the number of individuals in the state with health in-
surance coverage. The Secretary will permit flexibility in both the definitions of ben-
efits and cost sharing for optional and expansion populations in support of increased
use of private group health plan assistance programs, and will not be required to
meet a specific cost effectiveness test for premium assistance programs that promise
to decrease the number of uninsured under 200 percent of the federal poverty level.
Cost sharing for mandatory populations will continue to be limited to nominal
amounts. States will be provided new flexibility to define cost sharing for optional
Medicaid populations and expansion populations; however, cost sharing for optional
children may not exceed 5% of the familys income. In cases where the entire family
is covered, this 5% guideline does not need to apply to cost sharing that cant be
attributed to individual family members, such as a family premium. However, the
5 percent limit does apply to cost sharing attributable to children, such as copay-
ments for childrens visits to physicians.
NAHUs Position
The new HIFA waiver is an opportunity for states to develop private sector health
insurance options using currently available public funding. The new flexibility in
benefits, cost sharing and the use of private plans is unprecedented. We strongly
support the use of this waiver to decrease the number of uninsured individuals and
families in the United States.

RESPONSES FOR THE RECORD OF JUDITH FEDER, PH.D., DEAN OF PUBLIC POLICY,
GEORGETOWN UNIVERSITY
Question 1: In your written testimony, are you using the Presidents refundable
tax credit proposal as a basis for comparison or a proposal created by researchers
at the Urban Institute? Have the researchers at the Urban Institute specifically re-
searched a refundable , advanceable tax credit?
Answer 1: The tax credit proposal in my testimony is similar, though not iden-
tical to the Presidents proposal. As noted in the testimony, it is a refundable tax
credit for non-group-coverage, providing $1000 to individuals and $2000 to families.
Full subsidies would apply to individuals with incomes below $15,000 (families with
incomes below $30,000) and would phase out as income rises, reaching zero for indi-
viduals with incomes of $30,000 (families with incomes of $60,000). The likely im-
pact of this proposal was estimated by Jonathon Gruber of the Massachusetts Insti-
tute of Technology and National Bureau of Economic Research, with actuarial sup-

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113
port from the Actuarial Research Corporation. The estimates did assume that the
tax credit was advanceable.
Question 2: Is it correct that you assume that 1.4 million people will drop em-
ployer provided coverage to receive a tax credit to be used in the individual market,
but you also assume zero people will drop employer coverage to receive virtually free
insurance under an expansion of SCHIP?
Answer 2: No. Looking first at tax credits, 3.9 million people are estimated to
lose employer coveragea combination of people who themselves choose to shift
from employer coverage to purchasing coverage in the individual market and of peo-
ple whose employers drop coverage. Among those whose employers drop coverage,
an estimated 1.4 million people are estimated as not likely to purchase insurance
on their own, even in the presence of the credit. Hence, they lose insurance. (Figure
3 in my testimony shows the 2.5 million people who previously had employer cov-
erage and are estimated to be using the credit to purchase in the individual market.
Figure 5 shows the 1.4 million people whose employers drop coverage and who lose
insurance altogether because they are estimated as unlikely to take up the tax cred-
it to purchase insurance in the individual market.)
Looking at the public program expansion to parents, 1.1 million people are esti-
mated to lose employer coverage (Figure 3 in my testimony). However, all of these
people are individuals who themselves choose to shift from employer coverage to the
individual market when offered the tax credit. Employers are estimated as unlikely
to drop coverage under a policy that targets a new benefit to so narrow a segment
of workers as low income parents. Since employers are unlikely to drop, no individ-
uals lose coverage without shifting to an alternative. (Hence the 0 losing insurance
in Figure 5.)
Question 3: In your testimony, you assume a take-up rate of 8 percent for the
tax credit program but a 58 percent take-up rate for the Medicaid expansion. Can
you please elaborate on this?
Answer 3: Estimates of take-up are not arbitrarily assumed. Rather they are a
function of differences in subsidy structure and peoples likely responses to those
structures, based on experience. As shown in Figure 3 in my testimony, an esti-
mated 38.3 million previously uninsured individuals would be eligible for the tax
credit. For the vast majority of these individuals, the tax credit is structured to pro-
vide only a partial subsidy for the cost of insurance. The literature on individuals
responses to subsidies indicates that limited subsidies lead to limited participation.
Our analysiswhich reflects experience with the way peoples financial cir-
cumstances, the price of insurance, and the value of a subsidy affect choicesfinds
that 3 million people (8 percent of eligible uninsured people) would take up the tax
credit.
The public program expansion is structured as a full subsidy for the cost of insur-
ance for people with incomes under 150 percent of the federal poverty level (limited
premiums are charged for people with higher incomes up to 200 percent of the fed-
eral poverty level). In other words, the expansion makes insurance free for people
in this income category, where most of the estimated participation occurs. Participa-
tion estimates reflect past experience with take-up for Medicaid.
Question 4: Could state budgets afford the Medicaid expansion as set out in the
study? Do any Governors support the proposal you are presenting? How much would
the proposal cost States?
Answer 4: The proposal our study examined was similar to a legislative proposal
that would extend Medicaid or SCHIP coverage to parents (and any currently ineli-
gible children) with incomes up to 200 percent of the federal poverty level. We esti-
mated its total annual costs, federal and state, as $11.3 billion. Our analysis as-
sumed that states would be required to extend eligibility to the maximum, as a con-
dition for receipt of any Medicaid and SCHIP funds. But we did not assume a dis-
tribution of state and federal obligations; that split would be up to policymakers
and, indeed, the costs could be borne fully by the federal government. If split at the
current SCHIP matching rate, the federal share would be $7.9 billion and the state
share, $3.4 billion.
The public expansions total cost of $11.3 billion would increase the number of
people with insurance by 3.8 million, at a cost per net newly insured individual of
$2974. That compares to an estimate of $4.5 billion to increase the number of people
with insurance by 1.6 under the tax credita cost per net newly insured individual
of $2757. The difference in the two proposals total costs is almost entirely a func-
tion of how much they accomplish in expanding coverage.
Question 5: Your proposal does not appear to cover childless individuals or cou-
ples. Is this correct and do you know how many people fall into this category?
Answer 5: My testimony focused on options similar to the most prominent legis-
lative proposals. That meant comparing a broadly targeted tax credit proposal, for

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which take-up is found to be modest, to a narrowly targeted proposal, for which
take-up is likely to be substantial. When the disruption of employer coverage associ-
ated with the broader proposal is taken into account, the broadly-targeted tax credit
is found to increase coverage less than the public expansion that is narrowly tar-
geted to parents.
In the Kaiser Family Foundation study on which my testimony is based, however,
we analyzed two broader public proposalsspecifically, a mandatory expansion of
Medicaid or SCHIP to cover all individuals with incomes below 100 percent and 200
percent of the federal poverty level. Our estimates indicated that the first proposal
would increase the number of insured individuals by 5 million people; the second,
by 10 million people. The annual total costs (federal and state) are estimated at
$16.2 billion and $34.1 billion, respectively.
Speaking for myself, I would welcome legislative action to eliminate the current
restrictions in our public programs that leave adults other than parents of depend-
ent children without an insurance safety net in most of the country. I advocate a
change in policy to make public insurance available to all low income individuals,
whether or not they are parents of dependent children.

HEALTHCARE LEADERSHIP COUNCIL


May 10, 2002
The Honorable MICHAEL BILIRAKIS
Chairman
House Committee on Energy and Commerce
Subcommittee on Health
United States House of Representatives
Washington, D.C. 20515
DEAR MR. CHAIRMAN: As requested in your April 30, 2002 letter, attached are my
responses to the questions submitted for the record, following the February 28th
hearing on access to affordable health care coverage.
Thank you for the opportunity to testify before the Subcommittee. Please do not
hesitate to contact me or my staff if you need additional information.
Sincerely,
MARY R. GREALY
President
attachment
QUESTIONS AND ANSWERS FOR THE HEARING RECORD
Question 1. In your written testimony, you mention that a large percentage of the
uninsured are dependents of workersand while the workers may be able to afford
coverage for themselves, they cannot afford the higher premium for family coverage.
Can you elaborate on this portion of the uninsured and perhaps suggest some solu-
tions?
HLC Answer: Small and medium sized businesses offering health insurance to
their employees contribute, on average, 48 percent of the premium amount for em-
ployees, but only 24 percent for their dependents. As a result, children in these fam-
ilies are uninsured more often than the actual worker is.
Some of these uninsured dependents are eligible for, but not enrolled in, the State
Childrens Health Insurance Program (S-CHIP). States are working hard to find
ways to reach out to these un-enrolled eligible children through schools, clinics, etc.
Including employers of low-income workers in these outreach activities could be very
useful.
Special tax incentives for dependent coverage could be a wise choice for targeting
federal funds toward this population of the uninsured. A potential solution is for
states or the federal government to design a refundable tax subsidy targeted toward
making up the difference between this 24% and 48% employer contribution.
Another cost-effective option to reduce the number of uninsured among the em-
ployed population is allowing S-CHIP funds to be used by parents of eligible chil-
dren to purchase coverage for them through their employer. One reason employers
with mostly low-wage workers often do not offer employee health insurance is be-
cause their employees cannot afford to pay a share of the premium. Aid from the
S-CHIP program could encourage more employers to offer family coverage as well
as more employees to buy into employer insurance. Currently, due to displacement
concerns, some states are reluctant to allow the funding to be used in this way.
However, recent studies have demonstrated that this concern is unwarranted. None-
theless, appropriate safeguards could be implemented to avoid significantly replac-
ing private dollars with public dollars.

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Question 2. HLC has recognized several state and local programs that have found
ways to help small employers and individuals obtain coverage and care. What can
we learn from these programs and do you think these programs can be built upon
to eventually cover a significant number of the uninsured?
HLC Answer: There are a number of things we can learn from these programs.
Designing tax subsidies to attract both employer and employee purchase of insur-
ance requires careful study of subsidy level, administrative complexity and other
factors necessary to reach a threshold that would result in the choice to participate.
We have found that community-sponsored programs around the country that are ex-
panding insurance coverage in their local areas can serve as models of reference for
these thresholds.
An insurance program developed in Wayne County, Michigan, for small busi-
nesses found that it was difficult to entice these businesses to participate by sub-
sidizing less than one-third of the premium. The premium formula that eventually
got this program off the ground was one-third paid by the employer, one-third paid
by the employee, and one-third subsidized by the county.
The stability of the subsidy also appeared to be important to the success of the
programindicating that the subsidy should operate as a guaranteed percentage of
the premium rather than a fixed dollar. Applying observations such as these in de-
signing a tax incentive plan to reduce the number of uninsured could greatly in-
crease that plans potential for success. With added federal support that leverages
funding from private and other public sources, substantial opportunity exists to rep-
licate these experiences around the country.
Several of these local programs have found that marketing methods were key to
successful enrollment. They found that education outreach for small businesses and
individuals, not unlike the S-CHIP program, was a very necessary component that
needed to be part of the original planning process of the program. They also found
that it was important that any marketing efforts did not have the appearance of
government intervention.
In any case, tax incentives would give more small employers the proper incentive
to provide coverage and the incentive for employees to accept coverage for them-
selves and their dependents. This would result in more Americans being insured,
lower overall health care costs, and ultimately more affordable coverage for small
businesses.
Question 3. Many consider the S-CHIP program to be very successful in helping
the uninsuredwhy not just expand it to cover the low-income uninsured children
and adults who are not already eligible?
HLC Answer: The HLC believes the S-CHIP program is very valuable for its in-
tended purposechildren of low income families. We do, however, believe that in-
creased flexibility in the S-CHIP program would help increase its intended enroll-
ment. Tax incentives would be more desirable for as much of the population as pos-
sible because they would offer choice and flexibility and would instill competition
and innovation in the health system.
Furthermore, evidence suggests that we are reaching the limits of effectiveness
in reducing the number of uninsured through the S-CHIP and Medicaid programs.
Only about half of individuals currently eligible for Medicaid and S-CHIP actually
participate. A number of reasons have been cited for low participation rates includ-
ing the fact that participation rates of means-tested public insurance programs de-
cline as incomes rise. A large number of those not participating are those with in-
comes too high for Medicaid eligibility, but low enough to qualify for S-CHIP. Fami-
lies with incomes just above the poverty level are often working full time and are
more reluctant to receive their health care through a public program. This pattern
of lower participation among higher income persons is also evident in other govern-
ment health care subsidy programs, including the Qualified Medicare Beneficiaries
(QMBS) and Specified Low-Income Medicare Beneficiaries (SLMBs) programs. Re-
searchers have concluded that substantial outreach is necessary to overcome bar-
riers to participation, such as the possible stigma associated with public programs.
These data suggest that eligibility alone, without considerable investment to re-
move existing barriers to participation, will not efficiently increase insurance cov-
erage. Many eligible individuals in the higher income categories of Medicaid and S-
CHIP, as well as income categories under consideration for Medicaid and S-CHIP
expansions, are connected to the workforce. Therefore, solutions involving employer
insurance may be more effective in increasing coverage rates for these populations.
Question 4: After having an opportunity to review Ms. Feders written testimony
in which she compares a basic tax credit proposal to Medicaid expansion could you
please comment on her study and overall analysis?

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HLC Answer: HLC takes issue with Ms. Feders characterization of both the tax
credit proposals under consideration as well as the impact of further expansion of
public health programs to address the problem of the uninsured.
Specifically, Ms. Feders criticism of tax credit proposals makes apples to oranges
comparisons that do not reflect the facts of the proposals under consideration in
Congress. She states in her testimony that a significant problem with tax credits
is that low income uninsured persons need funds available in advance of purchasing
insurance and cannot wait until they file a tax return to receive the funds. However,
the tax credit proposal put forth by the Bush Administration, like others introduced
in Congress, is advanceable to beneficiaries because it is based on their previous
years tax return. This allows beneficiaries to receive the value of the credit in real
time and also ensures that they will not be held accountable for any overpayment
made by the government at the end of the year due to changing tax circumstances.
Ms. Feder claims that tax credits will not be of significant value to entice persons
to purchase private health coverage. She then cites studies that compare the impact
of expansions of public programs versus tax credits to make her point that expand-
ing Medicaid and S-CHIP have a greater impact on reaching the uninsured. Again,
this comparison is not relevant to tax credit proposals being considered today.
In the hypothetical example presented in Ms. Feders written testimony, she com-
pares a nonrefundable tax credit with Medicaid and S-CHIP expansion. Most tax
credit proposals under consideration in Congress, as well as the Administrations
proposal, promote refundable tax creditsthat is, those who have no tax liability
due to their low income, will still receive the full benefit of the credit in the form
of an insurance voucher. Thus, the conclusions she draws regarding the impact of
this proposal on the number of uninsured completely ignores the significant number
of uninsured who have no income tax liability and therefore would benefit from a
refundable tax credit.
Question 5: The analysis Ms. Feder presented at the hearing is based on numer-
ous assumptions. This includes: Substantial employer dropping of coverage is as-
sumed for the tax credits. Ms. Feder assumes a higher cost of insurance than is esti-
mated by the Council of Economic Advisors or currently provided by groups like e-
Health. The study assumes a very low take-up rate for the tax credit and a high
take-up rate for the Medicaid expansion. Could you please comment on Ms. Feders
assumptions?
HLC Answer: The criticism that employers may drop health coverage if you pro-
vide subsidies to the uninsured applies regardless of whether you provide these sub-
sidies through tax credits or through expansions in public programs. The key issue
is how you design the program. The amount of crowd-out, as it is called, of em-
ployer-provided coverage is minimized if the subsidy provided by the government is
less generous than the subsidy provided by the employer. If a low-income individual
was offered job-based health insurance and was also eligible to receive a tax credit,
the value of that tax credit would have to be greater than the employer contribution
to that employees health coverage, including the tax benefits associated with that
coverage, as well as the additional tax the employee would pay on the salary they
may receive in lieu of health coverage. In addition, most tax credit proposals are
capped at a certain amount whereas the tax exclusion for employer-provided cov-
erage is open-ended, and therefore potentially more generous.
An additional design feature that will reduce employers dropping coverage is
means-testing tax credits. An employer is not likely to drop coverage only for low-
income workers eligible for the credit, while maintaining coverage for higher income
employees.
The second assumption made by Ms. Feder related to the cost of individual health
insurance policies includes many variables she does not address in her written testi-
mony. Individual health insurance premiums can vary significantly based on the
state in which you live in and the type of policy purchased. States with numerous
mandated benefit laws and onerous insurance regulations have higher cost insur-
ance. In addition, there is wide variance in premiums depending on the level and
type of coverage an individual chooses. First-dollar indemnity coverage can cost sig-
nificantly more than a plan with a high deductible and managed care features. Re-
cently, the National Association of Health Insurance Underwriters (NAHU) chal-
lenged a Kaiser Family Foundation report by researching and publishing affordable
insurance rates for comprehensive health insurance policies for a set of hypothetical
insurance customers seeking insurance in the individual market. Several of these
hypothetical customers had pre-existing, chronic health conditions.
Finally, the assumption that take-up rates for Medicaid coverage would be greater
than tax credits is questionable. As already noted, the hypothetical example given
by Ms. Feder does not match current tax credit proposals under consideration. In
addition, the spending level for her Medicaid expansion proposal is much higher

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than the spending level for her tax credit example. If her hypothetical example were
to compare advanceable, refundable tax credits of equal value as her Medicaid ex-
pansions, we believe her example would yield different results.
Because health insurance tax credits are largely untested, it is hard to estimate
their true impact on meeting the needs of the uninsured. The values of the tax cred-
it approach are that they offer beneficiaries choice and flexibility in benefits and lev-
els of coverage; they provide beneficiaries access to the quality and efficiencies of
the private sector health delivery system; they do not carry the same stigma that
public programs often have for working families; and they provide a means of offer-
ing tax equity to low-income Americans who do not receive tax-favored employer-
based health insurance.
Contrast this with public programs such as Medicaid and S-CHIP. Only about
half of the individuals currently eligible for Medicaid and S-CHIP actually partici-
pate in the programs, suggesting that eligibility alonewithout considerable invest-
ment to remove existing barriers to participationdoes not and will not efficiently
increase the number of people receiving coverage. In addition, expansions of these
programs require legislative action by all 50 states, many of which are currently ex-
periencing severe funding shortfalls in their Medicaid budgets.

COMMITTEE ON THE CONSEQUENCES OF UNINSURANCE


May 9, 2002
The Honorable MICHAEL BILIRAKIS
Chairman
Subcommittee on Health
Committee on Energy and Commerce
U.S. House of Representatives
Washington, DC 20515-6115
DEAR CHAIRMAN BILIRAKIS: Thank you for the opportunity to provide additional
information to the Subcommittee. This responds to your letter of April 30, in which
you asked the following:
1. In your written testimony, you state that employers willingness to subsidize
coverage is strongly influenced by the scarcity or availability of workers, the cost
of health care, and the patchwork of public policies that encourage (or discourage)
firms to offer insurance as a benefit. Does the IOM plan on reviewing the regulatory
burdens on access to private health insurance and evaluate how this impacts the
cost of premiums?
2. According to your written testimony, you state that the combination of strict
eligibility requirements and enrollment procedures make public coverage difficult to
obtain and even harder to keep. You note that the median length of time that some-
one under the age of 65 keeps Medicaid coverage is about 5 months. At the end of
any given year, about two-thirds of the people who were insured by Medicaid at the
start of the year have lost their coverage for any number of reasons. These are stag-
gering facts. Can you please elaborate on this situation? Furthermore, Diane Row-
land stated that recent legislation may have made improvements to this situation.
Does IOM have any facts indicating changes in the status of this problem?
In response to the first question, the IOM Committee on the Consequences of
Uninsurance is charged with assessing and documenting personal and societal
health and economic effects of the lack of health insurance in a series of six reports.
The Committees first report, Coverage Matters, which was the basis of my testi-
mony to the Subcommittee on Health, surveyed a variety of factors that affect em-
ployers willingness to offer health insurance. The final report that the Committee
will issue in the fall of 2003 will identify strategies and models for addressing the
problems of uninsurance and, in preparing this final report, will give further consid-
eration to the obstacles to and potential for expanding employment-based health in-
surance. Although the work on this final report is not very far along at this point,
I doubt that our Committee will be able to quantify with sufficient precision the im-
pact of current federal and state health insurance regulations on premium costs. I
expect that we will, however, be able to identify some regulatory policies that are
more conducive to employment-sponsored plans than others.
In response to the second question, regarding the short tenure and instability of
Medicaid coverage for many enrollees, Coverage Matters and my testimony relied
on several analyses of the Census Bureaus Survey of Income and Program Partici-
pation (SIPP) panel data between 1990 and 1995, which followed participants over
28- to 33-month periods. These studies include:
Dynamics of Economic Well-Being: Program Participation, 1993 to 1995. Who
Gets Assistance? Jan Tin and Charita Castro. Current Population Reports P70-77,

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issued September 2001. Washington, DC: U.S. Census Bureau. Median duration
on Medicaid, <18 years = 4.3 months; 18-64 years = 5.2 months.
Single Women and the Dynamics of Medicaid. Pamela Farley Short and Vicki
A. Freedman. HSR:Health Services Research 33:5 (December 1998, Part 1); pp.
1309-1336. 1990-1992, single women 19-44 newly covered by Medicaid, dura-
tion on Medicaid: <1 year = 54%; <2 years = 69%.
Can Medicaid Managed Care Provide Continuity of Care to New Medicaid Enroll-
ees? An Analysis of Tenure on Medicaid. Olveen Carrasquillo, David U.
Himmelstein, Steffie Woolhandler, and David Bor. American Journal of Public
Health 88:3 (March 1998); pp. 464-466. 1991-1993, new Medicaid enrollees of all
ages, duration on Medicaid: < 1 year =62%; < 28 months = 74%.
One recent additional source of information about the stability and change in
health insurance status that the Committee did not have available earlier is based
on the 1996 Medical Expenditure Panel Survey (MEPS). Because the MEPS anal-
ysis is not limited to Medicaid enrollees and because the SIPP reports on Medicaid
participants enrolled only after the survey began, it is difficult to know the extent
to which this later MEPS analysis represents a lengthening of the average Medicaid
enrollment period, although it does appear to be lengthening somewhat.
MEPS Research Findings #18, AHRQ Publication No. 02-0006 (December 2001),
reports the percentage of persons under age 65 with some form of public health in-
surance (including both Medicare and Medicaid) during 1996 who had that coverage
for the entire year. Overall, 75 percent of public program enrollees were enrolled
the entire year. Seventy-five percent of children under 18 enrolled in public pro-
grams (largely Medicaid) remained covered for the entire year. Among adults, how-
ever, the fraction of those maintaining coverage for the full year ranged from 62 per-
cent for adults 18-24 to 85 percent for adults 55-64. Although the proportions cov-
ered by Medicare and Medicaid, respectively, are not given in this report, a larger
proportion of publicly insured older adults have Medicare coverage (due to perma-
nent disability) than is the case for younger publicly insured adults who are much
less likely to be disabled.
Dr. Rowland is correct, that federal Medicaid and SCHIP policy encourages states
to simplify program enrollment and re-enrollment procedures and lengthen enroll-
ment periods from one or three months to initial enrollment periods as long as a
year. Many states have done this. However, as several witnesses at the hearing
pointed out, states are also facing budget shortfalls that mitigate against expansive
Medicaid and SCHIP policies, and it remains to be seen whether states will sustain
the enrollment reforms that they initiated following the enactment of SCHIP. Our
IOM Committee continues to follow and will report on the latest information avail-
able about the duration of public program coverage.
Once again, thank you for the opportunity to testify and to expand upon my re-
marks here. Please do not hesitate to contact me if you would like further informa-
tion.
Sincerely,
ARTHUR L. KELLERMANN, M.D., M.P.H.
IOM Committee Co-Chair
cc: Mary Sue Coleman, Ph.D.
IOM Committee Co-Chair

THE HENRY J. KAISER FAMILY FOUNDATION


May 10, 2002
Hon. MICHAEL BILIRAKIS
Chairman
Subcommittee on Health
Committee on Energy and Commerce
United States House of Representatives
Room 2125, Rayburn House Office Building
Washington, DC 20515-6115
DEAR CHAIRMAN BILIRAKIS: Thank you again for the opportunity to testify before
the Subcommittee on Health on February 28, 2002 regarding The Uninsured and
Affordable Health Care Coverage. I received the follow-up questions and am sub-
mitting the following information for the record.
1. Premium Increases: In your written testimony, you discuss the impact of a
weakening economy and rising health care costs. You note that from 2000 to 2001,
premium costs increased on average 11%. Do you know what the premium increase
has been for premiums sold to small businesses and on the individual market respec-
tively?

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As stated in my testimony, health insurance premiums are beginning to rise more
rapidly than in previous years: according to our 2001 annual survey of Employer
Health Benefits, from 2000 to 2001, they rose on average 11%, the highest increase
since 1992. The greatest increase in premium costs was among small firms. All
small firms (those with between 3 and 199 workers) experienced increases of 12.5%,
and the smallest firms (those with between 3 and 9 workers) saw premiums in-
crease 16.5%. Differences between premium increases among small and large firms
were consistent across plan type (conventional, HMO, PPO, and POS).
While firms faced a wide range of premium increases around the average in-
crease, firms with fewer than 200 workers experienced disproportionately high in-
creases. More than a third (35%) of these small firms saw premiums increase more
than 15%, compared to only 17% of larger firms. For nearly a fifth of small firms,
premiums rose more than 20%.
In our recent National Survey of Small Businesses, which surveyed employers
with between 3 and 24 workers, we were able to obtain additional information on
the impact of rising premiums for small firms. Sixty-six percent of small business
owners say they are dissatisfied with the cost of health care and health insurance.
Many small businesses also indicate that future premium increases of 10% may lead
them to reduce the scope of benefits offered (36%), increase the amount that employ-
ees pay for insurance (50%), or drop coverage altogether (17%).
The March 2002 survey of small and independent business owners by the Na-
tional Federation of Independent Business (NFIB) Education Foundation (Monthly
Report, April 2002) also indicates that small businesses are concerned about the cost
of health insurance premiums. This survey reports that the cost and availability of
health insurance is now tied with taxes as the single most important problem facing
small businesses. Nineteen percent of owners cited this issue as the major problem,
up from 8% one year ago.
Additional detail on health care costs faced by employers and small businesses
views on rising costs can be found in our 2001 Kaiser/HRET Annual Survey of Em-
ployer Health Benefits and our April 2002 National Survey of Small Businesses, re-
spectively. Both of these publications can be found on our website, www.kff.org.
We unfortunately do not have information on premium trends in the individual
market. In general, policies in this market are highly variable and depend on an
individuals circumstance and location, and we have not attempted to collect aggre-
gate data on premium costs or their changes over time.
2. Length of Time with Medicaid Coverage. According to Dr. Kellermans
written testimony, he states that the combination of strict eligibility requirements and
enrollment procedures make public coverage difficult to obtain and even harder to
keep. He notes that the median length of time that someone under the age of 65 keeps
Medicaid coverage is about 5 months. At the end of any given year, about two-thirds
of the people who were insured by Medicaid at the start of the year have lost their
coverage for any number of reasons. What information do you have concerning the
median length of time someone keeps Medicaid coverage?
While it is likely that some beneficiaries now served by the Medicaid program
gain and lose coverage over a short period of time, the data on Medicaid tenure cited
in Dr. Kellermans testimony does not reflect the current configuration and oper-
ation of the Medicaid program, especially in its role as a health insurer for low-in-
come children.
The statistics cited above rely on studies of transitions on and off Medicaid that
draw from data collected in the early 1990s. Specifically, the main study I believe
Dr. Kellermann cites in his testimony (Carrasquillo, et al.) used a longitudinal sur-
vey conducted from 1991 to 1993. While informative of the experience of bene-
ficiaries in the early 1990s, it is misleading to extrapolate these findings to describe
current dynamics of Medicaid coverage.
As I stated at the hearing, the most significant reason such findings are no longer
accurate is because the Medicaid eligibility and re-certification processes have
changed significantly in recent years, particularly for children. Following welfare re-
form in 1996 and the implementation of the State Childrens Health Insurance Pro-
gram (CHIP) in 1997, states began to reach out to families eligible for Medicaid cov-
erage and ease barriers to enrollment and re-determination for both CHIP and Med-
icaid. Several states have raised income eligibility levels and/or begun to disregard
certain types of income in determining eligibility. This helps promote stability of
coverage, as minor fluctuations in income are not as likely to result in lost eligi-
bility. Furthermore, states have also implemented 12-month continuous eligibility
(17 states), which allows beneficiaries to be covered despite small income fluctua-
tions; lengthened periods between re-certification (42 states); and simplified the re-
certification process by eliminating the need for interviews and documentation (48
states). While studies have not yet specifically examined their effect, these improve-

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ments in the re-certification process are likely to have positively impacted the
length of time that families retain their coverage.
Another reason for caution in interpreting studies of Medicaid tenure stems from
the fact that the different populations that Medicaid serves move on and off cov-
erage in very different ways. For example, the experience of womenwho, at the
time many studies of this topic were conducted, largely qualified based on preg-
nancy or receipt of cash assistanceis likely to be very different from that of other
populations covered by the program. Medicaid coverage of pregnant women, which
ends 60 days postpartum, is by design short-term coverage; pregnant women who
reported being covered by Medicaid at one point in a survey were likely ineligible
for coverage at consecutive points in a survey that examines several years of cov-
erage. Further, income eligibility levels for non-pregnant women are most often
based on the exceedingly low income standards for cash assistance. As a result,
small fluctuations in earnings undermine Medicaid eligibility for this population. As
one study points out, in states with higher income eligibility levels, single women
retained Medicaid coverage longer (Short and Freedman, 1998).
In contrast, Medicaid coverage of other groups is more stable. Children on Med-
icaid are covered at higher income levels and are less likely to lose coverage due
to fluctuations in family earnings. In addition, the elderly and disabled on Medicaid
(who account for over a quarter of all beneficiaries) are unlikely to experience
changes in income or categorical eligibility (that is, they will not cease to be aged
or disabled) and corresponding changes in Medicaid coverage. Elderly and disabled
beneficiaries who live on fixed incomes and receive institutional care are least likely
to experience disruptions in their Medicaid coverage. These important differences in
the dynamics of coverage are lost when all groups are examined together in a single
median value.
Finally, though the potential of beneficiaries churning on and off Medicaid is an
important policy issue, it is important to recognize that this problem is largely re-
lated to the nature of the program. Coverage under means tested programspar-
ticularly those with low income thresholdswill by design fluctuate as peoples in-
comes rise and fall and change their eligibility status. For low-income individuals,
especially those who work in the service industry (as many do), income often varies
from month to month or season to season. For many of these people, Medicaid
serves as a safety net when they temporarily find themselves with no other source
of coverage. Especially in a weak economy, Medicaid fills in gaps in health insur-
ance for those who lose employment and look to public programs for assistance until
they return to the workforce; as we would hope, these transitions, and the cor-
responding Medicaid spells, are often short. As income eligibility levels are in-
creased, however, Medicaid coverage can develop from a temporary safety net to a
reliable source of insurance for low-income Americans.
In essence, your questionand the difficulty in answering itpoints out a signifi-
cant gap in the data we have on health coverage of the low-income population: we
do not have current, accurate information on the median length of time that some-
one keeps Medicaid coverage. Most recent sources of information use point-in-time
estimates of coverage, rather than longitudinal examinations of coverage dynamics
over time. Urban Institute analysis of one year of data showed that in a given year
(1998), beneficiaries were enrolled for an average of almost 9 months; however,
aged and disabled beneficiaries were covered for an average of 11 months in a year.
Given its limited one-year time frame, this data underestimates the duration of cov-
erage, as many will have enrollment that commenced before the year began or con-
tinues beyond the year end. A new statistical reporting system that is being imple-
mented by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (the Medicaid Statistical
Information System, or MSIS) may help provide better information on Medicaid ten-
ure in the future, but data from this system has only recently become available and
analyses are not yet complete.
I hope that this information is useful to the Committee as it considers options for
extending health insurance coverage to the nations 39 million uninsured. Please do
not hesitate to contact me if you need any additional follow-up information. Thank
you.
Sincerely,
DIANE ROWLAND
Executive Vice President, The Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation
Executive Director, The Kaiser Commission on Medicaid and the Uninsured

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RESPONSES FOR THE RECORD OF ROBERT G. DE POSADA, PRESIDENT, THE LATINO
COALITION
Ms. Feder states in her testimony that tax credits typically offer too few dollars to
make coverage affordable. Could you comment on this?
In most states, the tax credit would be sufficient. According to ehealth
insurance.com (the nations largest internet health insurance agency), out of 20,000
approved single and family applications 15,000 fall within 75-100% of proposed tax
credit. Of course, even federal workers have to contribute something to the cost of
their health insurance.
But with this kind of support from the Federal Government, insurers that have
ignored this market will have a strong incentive to design programs to meet this
new group of potential customers. Currently, there is no reason why health insur-
ance companies would target the individual market of low-income workers, simply
because they do not have the income to purchase a health insurance plan. However,
when they figure out that millions of households will have access to $3,000 a year,
you can rest sure that plans, similar to what Aetna and other health insurance com-
panies designed two years ago for this market, but were not able to find enough
consumers, will find many new customers.
However, we strongly recommend that additional efforts to help reduce the cost
of health insurance be included in legislation dealing with tax credits. For example,
individual association plans, as proposed by Congressman Lipinski (D-IL) to allow
community based organizations and churches to offer a variety of health insurance
plans to its members, of which at least one would bypass burdensome state regula-
tions, would clearly help reduce the cost of health insurance. This would also serve
as a great vehicle to reach out to underserved communities. We also support Asso-
ciation Health plans to help our small business owners get access to more affordable
health insurance for their employees.
Why do you think that the uninsured rate is so high among the U.S. Hispanic pop-
ulation?
Its mostly a matter of the source of employment. Most Hispanics work for small
businesses and in the service industry. These employers, in most cases do not or
cannot afford to offer health insurance to their workers. There is also the fact that
in many cases there is very a very high mobility in the workforce. We have inter-
viewed many employers in the service industry who indicate that many of their
workers move from job to job quite frequently, therefore it does not make sense for
them to offer insurance to workers that will be with them for a couple of months.
Also, in the last few years, the effects of guaranteed issue and community rating/
modified community rating have made health insurance more unaffordable for small
employers and for individuals.
It is an economic obstacle combined with the fact that most insurers have not tar-
geted the low-income workers market. So if you cannot afford health insurance and
you do not have easy access to it, you will most likely be uninsured. Also, you can-
not ignore the cultural behavior. In many cases, low-income and undereducated im-
migrant workers who are not used to a health insurance system in their country
of origin, are used to going to hospitals or clinics when they get sick.
As you know, the Presidents tax credit proposal provides a refundable tax credit
of up to $3,000 for a family with two or more children. Please comment on the utility
of such an approach.
Currently, employer-provided health insurance is tax-free, and that amounts to
about a $133 billion tax break for employer-provided insurance. Meanwhile, individ-
uals who dont have access to employer-provided health insurance get no tax break
if they buy health insurance.
These workers, in most cases low-income workers, have to pay for insurance with
after-tax dollars. This discrimination forces many individuals to go without cov-
erage. Providing uninsured families $3,000 each year tax-free to buy health insur-
ance levels the playing field and would provide an opportunity for many individuals
to buy health insurance. Why should the government provide a tax-break for Bill
Gates, and then ignore a waitress, or the guy painting your house, or the young men
picking grapes on the fields? Its a matter or fairness and treating people equally.
According to Fiscal Associates, 60% of the eligible population would buy health
insurance if they were given this opportunity. And this refundable tax credits will
help low income workers get health insurance for their families. Our survey data
show overwhelming support in the Hispanic community for this approach.
After having an opportunity to review Ms. Feders written testimony, in which she
compares a basic tax credit proposal to Medicaid expansion, could you please com-
ment on her study and overall analysis?

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I think her model is flawed. Ms. Feder is clearly committed to a single payer sys-
tem, government-run health system, and has a very negative opinion of the private-
system. If I were to focus a testimony on the most radical and far-fetched possibili-
ties and assumptions, I would also come to the same conclusions. I do however, find
interesting that most of those who want to expand the Medicaid program for every-
one, have a good private plan taking care of them and their families.
Ms. Feder works under the assumption that it will be impossible for a family to
buy health insurance under $8,000 a year. She uses a national average for a full-
fledge insurance plan to base her conclusions. However, the fact is that states with
guaranteed issue and community ratings have such high premiums that drive the
national average to unthinkable levels. You cannot tell me with a straight face that
a basic health insurance plan in Albuquerque, New Mexico and one in New York
City are comparable.
Our research shows this is not accurate. According to ehealthinsurance.com (the
nations largest internet health insurance agency), out of 20,000 approved single and
family applications 15,000 fall within 75-100% of proposed tax credit.
The purpose of the refundable tax credit proposal is to have a basic plan that
would help these families have the peace of mind that they will be covered in case
they need it. If she wants to offer these families a full-range Cadillac plan, the
price will obviously increase dramatically. She also argues that families will be re-
quired to pay a deductible and this will not encourage parents to seek preventive
care for their children. This is completely absurd. Even federal workers have a de-
ductible in their plan, and yet these parents do not sacrifice the health of their chil-
dren. Why would low-income workers be any different?
She also argues that employers will drop their coverage and the only ones who
would benefit from this proposal would be employees who are currently employed.
The fact is that there should be provisions attached to this legislation to make sure
this doesnt happen and to penalize any employer who drops health insurance cov-
erage in order to qualify for this kind of proposal. Congressman Lipinski has offered
legislation which could serve as a model to make sure that employers do not drop
their insurance.
From a financial point of view, anyone analyzing the current financial chaos that
Medicaid has created in most state budgets, would realize that doubling or tripling
the number of people covered by the Medicaid program would create havoc in most
states. Currently, most states are severely restricting access to services and medica-
tions in order to control costs. Can you imagine the consequences of significantly
expanding this mess?
Finally, if Ms. Feder is such a fan of Medicaid, we should invite her to drop her
employer-provided health insurance plan, go to the welfare office, sign up for Med-
icaid, tell her friends she is on Medicaid, and then describe Medicaid for us. My
guess is that she will not be happy, so why is she advocating that others join Med-
icaid.
The analysis Ms. Feder presented at the hearing is based on numerous assump-
tions. This includes: 1) substantial employer dropping of coverage is assumed for the
tax credits; 2) Ms. Feder assumes a higher cost of insurance than is estimate by the
Council of Economic Advisors or currently provided by groups like e-health; 3) the
study assumes a very low take-up rate for the tax credit nd a high take-up rate for
the Medicaid expansion. Could you please comment on Ms. Feders assumptions?
(See answer to question number 4.)
We have conducted forums in seven states focusing on improving access to afford-
able health insurance and quality health care. We have found that across the board,
Hispanic leaders and their organizations feel that the expansion of Medicaid and
ChIP programs are not the best solution. A wide range of groups like the League
of United Latin American Citizens, the Hispanic Business Roundtable, the Mexican
Benefits Committee, Carrolla Medical Management, the Interamerican College of
Physicians and Surgeons, and AZTEC Resources, among many others, have come
to the conclusion that tax credits will be more effective to reduce the number of un-
insured than the expansion of Medicaid.
Even most liberal-leaning Hispanic health organizations have actively criticized
the expansion proposals. These programs have very low rates of enrollment among
Hispanic families. So why should we believe that there will be a high take-up rate
among Hispanics? Also, according to a nationwide survey of U.S. Hispanics con-
ducted in May 2001, Hispanics prefer private health insurance over a government
program by 65 to 24%.
At the same time, we strongly believe that Federal and state authorities should
work diligently to simplify the process to qualify and enroll in Medicaid and ChIP.
This would also be an important part of addressing the uninsured crisis in our com-
munity. We are convinced that the tax credits, the increase of community health

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centers, the simplification of the application process for Medicaid and ChIP, and the
enactment of key legislation to promote pooling and bypass excessive regulations,
will go a long way to significantly reducing the uninsured crisis.

GALEN INSTITUTE
May 15, 2002
The Honorable MICHAEL BILIRAKIS
Chairman, Health Subcommittee
Committee on Energy and Commerce
2125 Rayburn House Office Building
Washington, DC 20015
DEAR MR. CHAIRMAN: Thank you for your letter regarding my testimony before
your committee on February 28, 2002, on The Uninsured and Affordable Health
Coverage. I also appreciate the opportunity to provide answers to the follow-up
questions you asked in your April 30, 2002, letter, as follows:
1. After having an opportunity to review Ms. Feders written testimony, in which
she compares a basic tax credit proposal to Medicaid expansion, could you please
comment on her study and overall analysis?
Dr. Feder presented findings from a preliminary study she co-authored for the
Kaiser Family Foundation that showed that tax credits would be much less efficient
in reaching the uninsured than targeted Medicaid expansion.
During the questioning session, I pointed out that a number of economists have
questioned the assumptions upon which the Kaiser study was based and from which
its conclusions are derived, thereby raising questions about the validity of the com-
parison. For example, when analyzing the tax credit proposal, the studys authors
made these and other key assumptions that influenced the studys findings:
Cost of insurance: The Kaiser study assumed that for the typical uninsured
family the cost of a nongroup policy is estimated to be roughly $10,000.
Crowd out: The authors assume that there would be little if any net crowd
out of employment-based coverage with the targeted Medicaid expansion, but
much more crowd out of employment-based coverage with a tax credit.
I feel the assumptions made and the conclusions drawn in the Kaiser study un-
fairly represented the impact of refundable tax credit proposals for the uninsured.
The assumptions, which I describe below in greater detail, are not a fair character-
ization of how tax credits would work in the real world. Only with a fair comparison
of tax credits vs. Medicaid expansion can policy-makers determine which is the best
course of action. I believe that such an analysis would show tax credits to be the
most effective and efficient way to address the problem of the uninsured in America.
2. The analysis Ms. Feder presented at the hearing is based on numerous assump-
tions. This includes:
Substantial employer dropping of coverage is assumed for the tax credits.
Ms. Feder assumes a higher cost of insurance than is estimated by the Council of
Economic Advisors or currently provided by groups like e-Health.
The study assumes a very low take-up rate for the tax credit and a high take-up
rate for the Medicaid expansion.
Could you please comment on Ms. Feders assumptions?
Regarding the likelihood of employers dropping coverage if tax credits were en-
acted, also referred to as crowd out: The study described by Dr. Feder (Attachment
1, Fig. 11) concludes that there would be significantly more crowd out with tax cred-
its and little or no net crowd out under Medicaid.
A co-author of the paper with Dr. Feder, Professor Jonathan Gruber of the Massa-
chusetts Institute of Technology, has done important published work on crowd out
in the past that seems to dispute the conclusions in this latest paper. For example,
he wrote with David Cutler a paper for the Quarterly Journal of Economics in May
of 1996 entitled Does Public Insurance Crowd Out Private Insurance? The abstract
says: We estimated that between 48 percent and 75 percent of the increase in Med-
icaid coverage was associated with a reduction in private insurance coverage. That
would be significantly more crowd out than the current paper reflects. And this was
for expansion of Medicaid for children and pregnant women with lower incomes,
who would be much less likely to have any private health insurance to crowd out
than in the current study.
And also regarding their estimates of the loss of employment-based coverage
under the tax credit proposal: In an article, Tax Subsidies for Health Insurance:
Costs and Benefits, in Health Affairs in January/February, 2000, Gruber and Larry
Levitt analyzed a health insurance tax credit that phased out at much higher in-
come levels than the one currently being proposedat income levels up to $100,000

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for families and $60,000 for individualswhere people are much more likely to have
health insurance. Yet in that paper, Gruber assumed that only 5.4 million people
would lose employer coveragejust one million more than in the current study
which has much lower income thresholds. And only 0.2 million became uninsured
as a result of firms dropping company coveragefar fewer than in their current
Kaiser study.
It is useful to ask what an employer likely would do if a refundable tax credit
were enacted. If an employer decides that his or her employees would be better or
at least as well off with the credit and therefore decides to drop the existing com-
pany coverage, the employees would need to be assured that their costs under the
tax credit plan would be about the same as the costs under the old employer plan.
Otherwise, the employer would find it very difficult to drop coverage without risking
harming employee morale and eventually losing workers to other companies that do
provide health insurance.
And if the net costs to the employee were the same, wouldnt they be just about
as likely to take up coverage under the new proposal?
Regarding the assumption about the cost of a policy: In testimony prepared by
Professor Gruber for Ways and Means Committee hearings on February 13, 2002,
he wrote, For a 40 year old male in excellent health, the average cost of nongroup
insurance is roughly $2000 per year. But these costs rise dramatically with age and
poor health status. Indeed, in my data, for the typical uninsured family the cost of
a nongroup policy is estimated to be roughly $10,000. My estimates assume that in-
dividuals and families who purchase nongroup insurance will pay these average
market prices for that insurance. (Attachment 2)
Dr. Gruber did calculate the cost and uptake for less expensive policies as part
of the study but did not use these calculations in reaching conclusions about the rel-
ative value of tax credits in comparison with Medicaid expansion.
According to Professor Mark Pauly of the Wharton School, most uninsured people
are in good to excellent health, and for them the premium for quite comprehensive
coverage would be in the neighborhood of $6,000-$7,000. However, when one in-
cludes the minority of the uninsured who are in poor or fair health who would be
quoted a higher premium and calculates the average premium for them, it could be
about $10,000. Still, the great majority of the uninsured would face the much lower
premium.
A study by the Presidents Council of Economic Advisors showed health insurance
to be much more affordable than Kaiser assumed. The average price in their survey
for a policy for a family of four was $3,287 for comprehensive coverage. The CEA
survey used a higher deductible, which many people would choose in order to have
affordable coverage, especially to provide protection against major medical expenses.
Interestingly, Kaiser itself concluded (depicted in Attachment 1, Fig. 13) that indi-
viduals who are healthier than average and disproportionately young are most
likely to participate in the tax credit plan. While I would disagree with this theory,
it further suggests that Kaisers $10,000 estimated average cost of a family policy
is too high and therefore skews the results of the study by putting tax credits at
a disadvantage.
Numerous other studies have shown health insurance to be much more affordable
than the Kaiser study represents. For example, eHealthInsurance, the on-line
health insurance brokerage, says that at least 84 percent of the policies it sells not
only are comprehensive but affordable, averaging $1,200 to $1,500 per person per
year.
Much of the discussion during the hearing centered on the cost of health insur-
ance and whether or not a $1,000/$3,000 credit (as in the Bush administrations tax
credit plan) would be sufficient for individuals and families to purchase at least
some form of health insurance. eHealth Insurances study found the tax credits pro-
posed by President Bush would have covered the full cost of the policy for more than
half of the 20,000 policies randomly selected for its study sample.
I am also including a chart produced by Dr. Robert Helms of the American Enter-
prise Institute that shows the actual range in a study by the White House Council
of Economic Advisors of the cost of health insurance (Attachment 3). The vertical
lines show the highest and lowest cost of health insurance in each category, and the
diamond points shows the median cost. I believe that this shows that the cost of
health insurance can be much more affordable than the high cost used in the Kaiser
study.
Regarding take-up rate: The Kaiser study also concluded that only 8 percent of
the eligible uninsured population would participate in the tax credit program (At-
tachment 4). That would not be surprising if all of the uninsured were faced with
a $10,000 a year family policy. But a less expensiveand more realistically priced
policylikely would draw much more participation.

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In his own research, Dr. Pauly found that 48 to 66 percent of the uninsured would
buy insurance if they were to receive a tax credit worth half of the value of the pol-
icy, while three-quarters would buy coverage if they received a credit worth 75 per-
cent of the premium cost.
If the cost of the policy were assumed to be less than $10,000, the uptake would
have been larger and tax credits would have fared better in the comparison.
Thank you for giving me the opportunity to provide additional information. Please
let me know any way I can be of help to you or to the committee in the future.
Sincerely,
GRACE-MARIE TURNER
President
Attachments:
1. Excerpts from the Kaiser Family Foundation study, Expanding Coverage for the
Uninsured: What Difference Do Different Strategies Make?
2. Excerpt from testimony by Dr. Jonathan Gruber presented to the Ways and
Means Committee February 13, 2002.
3. Chart produced by Dr. Robert Helms of the American Enterprise Institute show-
ing the range and median costs of health insurance based upon data from the
Council of Economic Advisers.
4. Excerpt from testimony by Dr. Judith Feder presented to the House Energy and
Commerce Subcommittee on Health February 28, 2002.

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